Fifty Shades of Grey movie full length review - "Fifty Shades of Grey" explores much more than sex festishes.
Seldom has an R-rated movie arrived in theaters with more pre-release hype, anticipation ? and misunderstanding ? than "Fifty Shades of Grey" (R, 2:05).
What is billed and understood (at least by those who haven't read British author E. L. James' novel) as simply a story of a young woman being introduced to one man's sexual fetishes is much more ? and much deeper ? than one might expect. Nevertheless, the nudity, sex, and eroticism are on full display throughout the movie. This film, the book on which it is based, and this review are not for the faint-of-heart or the easily offended.
Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson, daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson) is an attractive and intelligent college senior in Washington State who fills in for her sick roommate, Kate (Eloise Mumford) in interviewing billionaire business magnate Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) for the college newspaper. Anastasia (Ana to her friends, except to Christian, who consistently uses her full first name) gets flustered in the presence of this young, sophisticated, supremely-confident and mysterious man. For his part, Christian is quite taken with Ana ? and take her is what he soon decides he wants to do. He shows up at the hardware store where she works, takes her out to coffee and even comes to "rescue" her when she drunk dials him from a bar. Despite how obvious it is to the main characters and to the audience that these two are very, very different ? and despite the title character's own conflicted resistance ? these two twenty-somethings cannot resist each other.
In most love stories, after setting up the situation like I did in that last paragraph, I'd say "romance blooms" (or something to that effect), but Christian very clearly states, "I don't do romance." That doesn't stop Ana from being drawn to this man and wondering about the "various physical pursuits" he says he likes and his "singular" tastes, as he describes them. As Ana discovers more about the cipher that is Christian, she learns that he is wounded ? both emotionally and physically ? by his childhood. She seems to want to comfort this man who acts as if he needs no comforting and begins to love this man who tells her that he is only interested in her for sex.
Being the woman in Christian Grey's life means submitting completely ? sexually and otherwise ? to his whims. As he eases her towards an understanding and acceptance of his lifestyle, she has to sign a non-disclosure agreement, he convinces her to have sex (actually "f--- hard", as he describes it) and then shows her his "playroom." This usually locked room is painted dark red, has a bed and is filled with various restraining devices and implements of sadomasochistic sex play. Ana is shocked, but not necessarily repulsed. She's? curious.
Christian presents her his thick contract which describes Ana's prospective role as his submissive. He urges her to read the contract, educate herself on being a submissive and "keep an open mind." She does all that, while Christian waits impatiently for Ana to make a decision. What follows is a complicated dance in which both parties kid themselves about how it's going. He seems confident that she's warming to the idea of being his sex slave and she is convincing herself that he is becoming boyfriend material. Ana does draw closer to Christian's world in fits and starts and Christian seems to be working harder to draw Ana in than he has probably ever worked before. No spoilers here, but eventually the true nature of each character does come out and the film ends with two words that carry more emotion than any six syllables I can remember hearing in any movie in a very long time.
A given audience member's reaction to this movie will likely be influenced by how she or he feels about Christian's lifestyle, but evaluating this film solely on those criteria misses the point. Yes, the nudity and sex are enticing and anyone paying to see this movie for those scenes will be more than satisfied, but you'll get more than eroticism for your money. Much like "Boogie Nights", director Paul Thomas Anderson's engrossing 1997 meditation on the 70s porn industry, this film is an examination of human relationships. "Fifty Shades of Grey" is a love story, a parable of male and female emotional and sexual roles in the 21st century and an exploration of a lifestyle which many people know very little about, but very few know much. Basically, this is simply an entertaining movie. Casting little-known actors in the main roles is very effective and both show more emotional range than I expected from simply watching the movie's theatrical trailer. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson paces the movie well and she skillfully balances the film's salacious nature with its deeper meanings. "B+"