Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) …and 125 Minutes of Boredom Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) …and 125 Minutes of Boredom
Dee reviews the most hyped movie of this month and he says that oddly enough, he is the only one who really suffered during... Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) …and 125 Minutes of Boredom

The 90s are back at the cinema. At least I got that impression on my last excursion to the Multiplexx, where I went to see Fifty Shades of Grey in an official mission for The Supernaughts.

Sadly only in the shape of the two worst subgenres the decade gave birth to: Fifty Shades… is a continuation of the forgotten “Erotic thriller” genre (Basic Instinct, Sliver, etc.), while the trailer for The Boy Next Door (with Jennifer Lopez) that preceded the main feature, suggested the return of my personally most loathed subgenre, that has no official moniker (maybe it was too horrid to be named) but could alternately be described with “home invasion thriller”, “housewife thriller” or “white people/middle class fears thriller” (The Hand that rocks the Cradle, The Good Son, Sleeping with the Enemy, etc.).

But opposed to the latter one that has no reason to exist at all, the former one is a guilty pleasure of mine, as it at least offered great moments of unintentional hilarity and delightfully stupid entertainment.
Sadly, Fifty Shades cannot maintain that glorious tradition, apart from the “stupid” part- that is still fully intact.

The plot…. “plot”

Anastasia Steele (that’s not a porny name at all) is a young literature student, that bears all the characteristics that identify her as shy, slightly uptight and lovably clumsy according to the standards in the rule book for chick flick characters. Played by Sonny Crockett’s (or Nash Bridge’s) daughter Dakota Johnson, who is channeling both Kate Hudson (in any movie) and “Charlotte” from Sex and the City, Anastasia is still the most well-developed character of this movie, despite her cardboard-like qualities.
This cannot be said of Christian Grey ( played by Jamie Dornan, who looks like a slightly manlier version of Anton Yelchin), the mysterious young bazillionaire Anastasia has to interview. Grey really is an enigma. We are told what a busy and successful man he is, yet we neither get to know what he is exactly doing nor does he ever exude the aura of a business man. When he is interrupted while working on his laptop, it looks as if he just was seated there one minute before the camera started rolling, staring through the screen and randomly typing something.

grey2

The Piano man!

Even more mysterious are his office and his apartment. Nobody ever seemed to have lived or worked there, they rather look like nondescript showrooms in a furniture store. Through the generous French windows we get a supposedly awe-inspiring panorama of the city, meant to illustrate Grey’s megalomaniac, yet underneath lonely character. For some reason the buildings and the sky look really flat though and there is nothing moving on the streets in the middle of the day. Probably this artificiality should symbolize that Grey is so lonely and alienated inside that he is living in his own universe that defies the conventional rules of time and space. Probably it’s just a crappy set with a badly photographed backdrop.

fifty-shades-of-grey-movie

As expected, Christian and Anastasia immediately feel attracted to each other, despite no tangible chemistry whatsoever. But we are told many times how they cannot be without each other, so it must be true. Tell, don’t show. Of course there must be a drawback somewhereAnastasia senses the tormented soul under Christian’s unapproachable exterior.
And really, one day he confesses to her that he is secretly into BDSM as a dominant, a behaviour that was triggered when he became a submissive for six years to his mother’s friend at the age of 15. Anastasia is not yet deterred though, she even lets him take away her virginity in an act whose reflection in the ceiling mirror over the bed is completely impossible considering circumstances like perspective, size relations and distance, but it takes place in Christian’s other-dimensional apartment so it does not have to adhere to the rules of optics.
A few tedious plot developments later, mostly concerning background stories about their families, Anastasia decides to accept Christian’s offer to be a “submissive on approbation” for an agreed span of time, because she wants to “save” Christian from his “curse” (sorry for the excessive use of quotation marks). Sidenote: The “bad boy” is for chick flicks what the “pixie girl” is for dude-centric indie flicks, he is just a catalyst for the character development of the protagonist.
On with the script: So Christian takes Anastasia to his secret playroom, the lamest SM- chamber I have ever seen in a movie, a far too bright red panelled bedroom that has a respectable selection of whips, handcuffs and riding crops, but is otherwise not too kinky at all. As if IKEA expanded its range to the design of the more murky sections of living spaces.
Finally some mild -very mild- BDSM action follows! Spurred by Anastasia’s apparent enjoyment of those practices, Christian tries to talk her into signing a contract that would make her his absolute servant, but a conflict evoked by his complicated character makes her rethink her decisions and she declines, leaving him thereupon.
And then the film is suddenly over. From a storytelling standpoint it is like as if the plot ended after the second act. For you nerds out there: It’s as if The Empire Strikes Back ended after the Falcon reached Cloud City.

Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-Trailer-2

Cue pan flutes.

The pain, oh the pain:

I guess by now it’s common knowledge that Fifty Shades originated as Twilight fan fiction and the influence of the YA novel vampire saga is still very palpable. The theme of the chaste girl/young woman who falls in love with the “bad boy” and tries to save him is still intact. The casual way the love story unfolds as if its tender beginnings, the very act of falling in love was more of a necessary evil that has to be gone through to get to the rewarding part, namely lazily indulging in excessive self-loathing and other hysterics. The defloration theme is also owed to Twilight– in both cases the female protagonist is a virgin till she meets the first guy that makes her all hot and wetty-wetty.
Even a few whole scenes from the Bella & Edward epic were directly adapted for this spank-happy derivate-film: Remember when Edward saved Bella from being smashed by a van with his superhuman powers? In Fifty Shades, Christian pulls Anastasia back before she gets hit- by a cyclist. I am not making this up. This is the film that will make Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, whose reputation as actors is still tarnished by their first collaboration, sigh with relief, as Twilight is the much better film than Fifty Shades.

Judging from the artistic and technical angle, the film is nothing to write home about. Aesthetically speaking, it’s just a catalogue brought to life, with the most boring cinematography imaginable. The costumes and sets are a nightmare of blandness, dreamed up by “Gap”, “Pottery Barn” and IKEA. You gotta know the target audience, right? None of the sets that represent the living spaces of the protagonists look as if anybody had ever lived there, none of the costumes look as if they had been worn before. Attempts to make Christian’s apartment look decadent for example are ludicrous and almost touchingly naive.
To add insult to injury, the score by Danny Elfman (!!!) is annoyingly intrusive, displaying the composer’s trademarked playfulness in the most inappropriate moments. I almost started missing the sexy pan flute excesses from the good old soft erotic movie times. Not to speak of all the pop music garbage that is cluttered over the whole running time of the film.

“I don’t make love, I fuck, hard.”

At this point, it’s almost redundant to lose any words about the quality of the script or storytelling. The minimalist plot- that is, as I mentioned above, incomplete- is drawn out to a mind-numbing length of 125 minutes. Extra padding is provided but not one, but two sequences of the two leads taking a trip in a helicopter and sailplane respectively, so Christian can show off with his pilot license while generic pop songs are blaring through the speakers. Well, it worked for Baywatch.
It would be unfair to judge any of the actors on screen by their performances in this clunker, because it is impossible to deliver anything within those confinements that would elevate the material. My best wishes to Johnson and Dornan, I hope this turns out to be the career-booster they certainly hope it will be.
I was also once again reminded why professional film critics take notes during the screening, because I cannot remember a lot of the (naturally bad) dialogue, just a few tidbits that display the film’s desperate attempts to look edgy, but end up in unintentional comedy.
“I don’t make love, I fuck, hard.” Gasp! Another scene that shows Christian and Anastasia negotiating the details of the “submission”-contract that define the sex acts she is willing to agree with, practices like “anal” and “fisting” are name-dropped. Edgy!

Speaking of, the film is incredibly limp in the sexy department. Nudity there is aplenty, mostly provided by Johnson. Dornan is mostly seen shirtless, but apart from a scene that has his bare ass filling the screen, he keeps his jeans on, even in his secret chamber, despite his character Christian telling Anastasia to “embrace her nudity” unashamedly. There are also some hints of male and female pubic hair- remember pubic hair?
Coming to the most important part, the BDSM, or better said the lack thereof. Yes, the BDSM scenes in Fifty Shades are so vanilla, they would not even be worth a mention if they were not the main selling point of this trashy piece. Anastasia gets blind-folded and her hands tied up twice and there are three scenes of soft spanking/whipping, the one at the end that is supposed to be the tipping point for her to leave him (oops, spoiler) is so milquetoast, not even leaving the skin on her butt reddened, it makes you wonder what the fuzz was all about.
Generally, the “BDSM” (gotta use those quotation marks again) practices are solely represented as a titillating foreplay for some good ole-fashioned boning.

You better watch this instead.

You better watch this instead.

The (bare, slightly bruised) Bottom line:

But now, after all those criticisms, comes the ultimate question: Is it even fair to judge Fifty Shades by those conventional standards?
Is it fair to rate a work, that apparently speaks to the hearts of millions of women out there, with objective measures? Fan fiction is probably the most sincere, upright narrative form in existence right now, producing wonderfully untainted, (and I mean that in a positive way) unreflected works that can give us an unfiltered look into the soul of the author. Chuckling about some of the weirder excesses of this genre is absolutely okay, but laughing at them with contempt is outright mean and stupid, it’s like laughing at the secret diary entries of someone else.
I myself have always been of the opinion that a movie that is relentlessly sincere can not only be forgiven its more bumpy parts or in some cases even its complete ineptitude, I actually think this roughness can add to the charm and “realness” of the experience and elevate it over any piece of  overly praised pretentious arthouse-trash that hides behind his pseudo-intellectuality.
And isn’t the artist courageously exposing the utmost vulnerability with the confession of wanting to be sexually dominated in times when sexuality has become the battlefield of gender politics?

Well, there are exceptions. As I stated above, fan fiction can be very enlightening if it’s sincere. Yet, some people are not really in touch with themselves, so they fill the void where their personality should be, with superficial bullshit. When those people write books, their works reveal nothing but the bullshit they absorbed over the years like a sponge. No matter how deep one is digging, there is no subtext or real emotional core, it is the same narcissistic, soulless and disturbingly otherworldly crap underneath as it is on the surface. And Fifty Shades is full of shit. One of the main reasons for this may be the fact that E.L. James not only aped the plot of Twilight, but also emulated the narrow-minded, bigoted world view of its author, Stephenie Meyer.

pieta

Let’s ignore all the evidences on hand that suggest that James never came in touch with real BDSM, or never even did a minimum of research for Fifty Shades. If we classify it as a personal fantasy, her approach is kind of valid, if incredibly lazy.
Even with that concession, her literary effort is still crazily offensive.
James’ treatment of BDSM is double-edged and hypocritcial: Grey’s dominant streak is something that is actually tormenting him, his penchant for BDSM is just an expression of his psychological inadequacies, but he can be healed with the power of love. Yet, the BDSM practices are very helpful- in their very toned down, vanilla version- for Anastasia during her journey of sexual self-discovery.
Messages: 1. “BDSM light” does wonders if you wanna get in touch with your own sexuality. Or rather gives you the illusion you just did. This message is relevant for boring, uptight couples that are looking for something to spice up their uninteresting bedding routines.
2. “Real/hardcore BDSM” is evil! It is always triggered by a psychological defect and is preventing you from living a fulfilled life. It is also impossible to integrate those impulses into your personality in a meaningful way, as you will remain a constantly tortured soul. But it can be overcome by love and in the end you will be able to enjoy regular humping just as us normal folks. This message is relevant to practitioners of BDSM who can rightfully feel discriminated by that drivel.

While we are at listing things, here are two misconceptions about potentially positive side effects of Fifty Shades that need to be corrected:
1) Fifty Shades will not accidentally lead to sexual self-discovery. The works of people who have no insight at all, cannot barely provide such for others.
2) Fifty Shades will not help making “real BDSM” more socially acceptable, for all the reasons cited in the paragraph above. It just added “BDSM light” as another superficial element to the lifestyle chic that is propagated in “Cosmopolitan” and other chick mags.
Fifty Shades is to BDSM what Vanilla Ice is to hip-hop. What JJ Abrams is to Star Trek. What Limp Bizkit is to Heavy Metal.

In the end, Fifty Shades of Grey is just the old fable of the Beauty and the Beast, retold in the most dull and lifeless manner.
There is no pleasure and the only pain is the one the author of this review, Detective Dee, took upon himself to bring you the truth about this movie. He shall be remembered as a man whose willingness to suffer for his art is legendary.


 

PS: Quotation marks are the surgical gloves of the written word.

PPS: Ironically, the film was preceded by an ad for a famous brand (that was infamously featured in Back to the Future) whose erotic tone was surely intended to benefit from the Fifty Shades– hype, starring Charlie Hunnam, who was originally cast as Grey but declined. At the end of the day he made the better deal- same money, but less work and first and foremost, less shame. Oh and he could act besides Doutzen Kroes and not Dakota Johnson.

Check also out my review for Quills and our podcast episode about BDSM in movies!

Author Image

DetectiveDee

Detective Dee reviews movies and sometimes TV-series. He likes to indulge in the Asian cinema, exploitation flicks and the horror genre but is no stranger to Blockbuster culture either. He writes whatever he wants, but always aims to entertain.

  • I_am_better

    You watched it? Wow. That’s seriously taking one for the team. Kudos to you, Dee

  • franks_television

    Very good review. What was the brand that was in Back to the Future? Tab?

  • Slothiplicity

    I’ll probably still see this. Even though you say it’s crap. But I’m in no hurry. I’ll wait till I can watch it at home.

    Silly Dee, Vanilla Ice is the greatest rapper of all time. I think you have him confused with someone else.

    What I learned from this review: Dee is a fan of Sex and the City.

  • Dee

    Calvin Klein.

  • Dee

    Common knowledge.

  • Slothiplicity

    Well, I was unaware.

  • I_am_better

    “…As if IKEA expanded its range to the design of the more murky sections of living spaces…”

    LOL

  • franks_television

    Oh right.

  • Slothiplicity

    I was hoping to see an erotic Tab ad…

  • Rare English Rose

    This was a great read, Dee, nice job. This is also as close as I will ever get to this movie.

  • Bop

    So as expected it’s 50 Shades Of Shit.

  • Slothiplicity

    The script originally contained a scene involving mayonnaise, but it was cut in order to achieve an R rating.

  • Dee

    Thanks! I did it so you don’t have to.

  • Bop

    I see. The audience can’t hold its mayonaise.

  • Abe

    That’s what I told all my girlfriends.

  • Bop

    You are a tough motherfucker.

  • Tarmac492.1

    This review is obviously more entertaining and insightful than the film could ever be. Well done. Dee, perhaps you can write a novel that starts off as fan fiction of this and you can make 400 bazillion dollars. My one question is can a movie made in this day and age be any more edgy, sexy, or pornographic than something that we all have at our fingertips now? I love the grandiose names that all these characters have in these type of novels/movies. My friend has a few romances on Amazon and she says they are all like that. Funny.

  • Dee

    It was an ordeal!

  • Dee

    Lol, thanks! Anastasia Steele, Bella Swan… yeah you gotta have some nerves to use those names un-ironically.

  • I_am_better

    Now we need that “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water”-Review

  • Slothiplicity

    That film also contains “light BDSM”

    http://s2.dmcdn.net/GT-Hx/1280×720-65B.jpg

  • franks_television

    Yeah that would be something.

  • I_am_better

    Lexi Alexander just Tweeted this. Oldie but a classic anyways….
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B95nxtpIAAEBwR6.jpg

  • Slothiplicity

    The people who like 50 shades aren’t even reading it, they’re just rubbing it against their genitals.

  • CreepyThinMan

    THIS FUCKING SHIT IS TYPICAL LIFESTYLE/EMOTION PORN!!! THE ONLY GOOD THING ABOUT IT IS THAT IT’S CAUSING A SHITSTORM AMONGST WOMEN WHILE THEIR SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR CUCKOLDS DON’T KNOW WHICH SIDE TO TAKE!!! IS IT AN ENPOWERING FABLE ABOUT A YOUNG WOMEN GIVING HERSELF TO SAVE THE MAN SHE LOVES WHILE LEARNING MORE ABOUT HER SEXUALITY?!? OR IS IT JUST ANOTHER FANTASY ABOUT A PLAIN JANE DUMB BITCH WHO SUBMITS TO ABUSE FROM SOME FUCKSTICK JUST BECAUSE HE’S RICH AND GOOD LOOKING!!! WHEN SHIT LIKE THIS OR TWILIGHT IS POPULAR, I THINK OF THE WISDOM OF SAMMY GRUBMAN….

    Let’s be reasonable and logical, and face up to facts. Women
    aren’t human; they’re not even like monkeys or orangutans. Those middle-headed,
    pea-brained, waste-your-money liberals might want to brainwash you into
    thinking that girls are good for something other than sucking cock, but you and
    I and every other sensible man knows better. These sluts were put on Earth to
    steal your money; be whining, complaining and arrogant; and to serve as
    reasonably comfortable holsters for your erections when one is aroused by the
    call of nature.

    First off, scientific research has it that women just aren’t
    the same as men. They don’t like things like camera’s or computers or
    state-of-the-art stereo’s, simply because the higher centers of their brains
    aren’t developed as well as a man’s. Furthermore, according to a very fine
    article in The National Enquirer, it’s been proven that women aren’t as smart
    as men. It takes real guts to admit it, but women are mindless creatures….Don’t
    let those detestable, ugly, disgusting, sour-pussed lesbian diesel-dyke Women’s
    Libbers fool you, along with their cotillions of homo yes-men Women are most
    happy when they are serving their twins gods of Mammon and King Cock…

    Men work hard, make money, grind the wheels of business,
    only to fall victim to early deaths dealt out by the insane caprices of
    vengeful sluts…They should be rounded up in a pig pen with pigs and fucked with
    sticks and forced to eat filthy offal, and maybe then they would appreciate a fine
    figure of a man who wants to own and take care of them, even if he is perhaps a
    wee bit nervous and high-strung and suspicious of some people’s motives….

    AT LEAST A MOVIE LIKE BASIC INSTINCT, OR VERHOEVEN’S SHOWGIRLS WHICH CELEBRATES ITS 20TH ANNIVERSARY THIS YEAR, WAS SLEAZY, STUPID AND FUN!!! 50 SOG LOOKS/SOUNDS SOO SELF IMPORTANT THAT THE IDEA OF GOING TO SEE IT MAKES MY COCK GO LIMP!!! SO THANK YOU, Detective Dee, FOR TAKING A KICK TO THE BALLS FOR THE REST OF US WHO’D RATHER SUCK ON THE END OF A SHOTGUN AND PULL THE MOTHERFUCKING TRIGGER THAN SIT THROUGH THIS INSIPID DRIVEL!!!FACT!!!
    http://youtu.be/zBvpj0cCHLA

  • Abe

    I do that with Slothy Seconds.

  • CreepyThinMan

    I DID THAT WITH RON JEREMY’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND ALL I GOT WERE PAPERCUTS!!!FACT!!!

  • Slothiplicity

    Probably more enjoyable than reading it.

  • Abe

    This was beautiful! And I think we all need to thank Dee for taking one for the team.

  • RevengeofZodLovesMaude

    Ugh. Why is Fucking with a plot slightly interesting?

  • RevengeofZodLovesMaude

    A scene from the book has the dude removing her tampon. How lovely? Shame on the gals for embracing this horseshit.

  • Abe

    You’d love Anatomy of Hell there Zod!

  • CreepyThinMan
  • Slothiplicity

    How can a question be a fact?

  • CreepyThinMan

    BECAUSE THE SHEER MASS AND DENSITY OF MY PENIS WARPS SPACE AND TIME BEYOND YOUR SIMPLE COMPREHENSION OF WHAT YOU PERCEIVE AS “REALITY”!!! IT ALSO SOMETIMES GETS CAUGHT IN ELEVATOR DOORS!!!FACT!!!
    http://youtu.be/sdDegaHfuXQ

  • CreepyThinMan

    I’VE GOT TO FINISH MY OWN TWILIGHT FAN-FIC NOVEL CALLED “SOAKING UP VIRGIN BLOOD WITH $1000 BILLS”!!!FACT!!!
    http://youtu.be/a7ihSBPjMCE

  • ErnestRister

    Chastity Holster.

  • Dee

    You are welcome!

  • Bop

    When so many women read that book they must be missing something in their lives. Or… the saying that deep down every woman wants to be abused holds a big percentage of truth.

  • Slothiplicity

    Lonely women and unfulfilled housewives. And there’s nothing wrong with a little consensual “abuse”.

  • CreepyThinMan

    SHE FELL DOWN THE STAIRS!!!FACT!!!

  • CreepyThinMan

    CUCKOLD definition courtesy of the Urban Dictionary http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=cuckold

    A sexually inadequate husband who accepts his wife’s pussy is her solely property and she alone decides which men she will fuck, even if it means denying her husband. His only access to her pussy is to clean it of the ejaculate of males she chooses to fuck.

    Doug has the penis of a young boy and has never given his wife Jill an orgasm. His choice was divorce or be a cuckold. He is now a fully submissive cuckold to Jill.

  • Slothiplicity

    Fifty Shades has officially scored the biggest opening weekend ever for a female filmmaker. So… Congratulations?

  • KilliK

    kek.

  • Rare English Rose

    Trust me I have no desire to be abused. I find the thought sickening.

  • RevengeofZodLovesMaude

    Sadly, NO…

  • So, Dee, what you think of 50 Shades Of Grey?

    Seems from many comments that Shades is sado-masochism for people who don’t like to feel pain.

    Like many flawed movies, there’s always ways to improve the story, and this movie is in need of this elements to work:

    1- Set during WWII;
    2- kinky nazis;
    3- fantasy versions of concentration camps;
    4- Ilsa the she-wolf of the SS;
    And this is by far the most important thing, whose lack proves the people who made this movie are not doing it right
    5- Nicolas Cage as Fu-Manchu.

  • Stalkeye

    “These sluts were put on Earth tosteal your money; be whining, complaining and arrogant; and to serve as
    reasonably comfortable holsters for your erections when one is aroused by the
    call of nature.”

    Bro, you fucking killing me this tirade!!! LMMFAO
    Classic, Creepy.

    !!!FACT!!®

  • Stalkeye

    Now, that’s some sick Shit right thar!!

    “Doug has the penis of a young boy and has never given his wife Jill an orgasm. His choice was divorce or be a cuckold. He is now a fully submissive cuckold to Jill.” XD

  • Stalkeye

    GTFO!!!

  • Stalkeye

    Better Mang than I am.

  • Stalkeye

    He’s a Masochist!! (0:’

  • Dee

    Spongebob next!

  • John Connor

    Please write a screenplay (if you desire, of course). You inspire me.

  • John Connor

    A lot of women say that and then they take it hard from their boyfriends who treat them like shit. I think they don’t mind though because they are sucking all the money out of him.

  • Rare English Rose

    That’s a pretty bleak outlook. Anyways, I have my own money and that’s the way I like it.

  • John Connor

    How is it a bleak outlook? I’m just telling it like it is. Everyone should know this from others’ misfortunes, but they go ahead and continue the sick tradition anyway.
    It’s like me saying, “I’ll never go near crocodiles because they’ll very likely kill me.” That’s not a bleak outlook, its simply how it is.

  • John Connor

    “I have my own money and that’s the way I like it.”

    You’re just saying that to make me like you more so we’ll get together, get married, and then you’ll take everything I have, you conniving thief.

  • Rare English Rose

    Yep, you got me! Darn!

  • Guest

    I’d never wash the movie but my brother told me that it was wake, after he read the book.

  • Guest

    I’d never wash the movie Fifty Shades of Grey but my brother told me that this film is wake, after he read the book.