“50 shades” not all it pretends to be



After reading the “Fifty Shades of Grey” series, I could not wait for the first movie to come out on Feb. 13, 2015 with a running time of 125 minutes (rated R for sexual content and language).

Following its release, the film broke a box office record with $546.5 million. However, after watching it twice, I realized this film, despite that record, has major deficiencies.

The movie stars Dakota Johnson (“The Five Year Engagement” and “21 Jump Street”) as Anastasia Steele and Jamie Dornan (“The 9th Life of Louis Drax” and “The Fall”) as Christian Grey.

Ana (Johnson) is a college student just about to graduate. Ana did a favor for her roommate and friend Kate (Eloise Mumford) when she became ill. Consequently Ana had to interview prominent megabucks mogul Christian Grey for the school newspaper. Grey (Dornan) has “particular” tastes and is immediately interested in Ana. He later shows up at Ana’s place of work and agrees to do a photo shoot.

Ana describes Christian as polite, intense, smart, and really intimidating. After Christian tells Ana to stay away from him, he then changes his mind because he says he just cannot stay away from her. Christian tells Ana he doesn’t do romance, something she soon finds out.

Johnson’s acting is phenomenal. She brings Anastasia’s character from the book to life, bringing to the screen exactly what I was looking for in Ana, a character faithful to the heroine in the novel. Johnson plays Ana as a shy college student (as she was in the book) and then opens her up to someone who may be okay with the life style of someone like Christian Grey.

Dornan’s job is perhaps harder, having to portray a more complicated role as Christian Grey – someone who is intimidating, polite, smart, and intense all at the same time. For the most part his character comes alive although he was not the director’s nor the author’s first choice for Christian Grey. Most of his scenes are intense and he has to do things to a women he says he would never think of doing in real life. I was expecting Christian’s character to be more intimidating than it was. The director and author could have chosen someone who was more attractive and someone who could play the role with more depth. He seemed a bit too mild for what was required.

The movie was directed by Sam Taylor Johnson (“Nowhere Boy” and “Love You More”). Sam Johnson has not directed many movies, and this was only her third one. For the most part I think she did okay, although I think series author E.L. James should have had the role of assistant director or even should have directed the movie herself.

The screenplay was written by Kelly Marcel (“Saving Mr. Banks”), who is relatively new to the business. The film would have been better had she followed the the book more closely.

I would give this film 3 out of 5 stars. The movie was not what I was expecting and I was hoping for more. I was hoping the portrayal Christian Grey would have been better. I was also hoping for someone who was more attractive than Dornan. As a reader, there were things I was hoping for in the movie that did not happen, and there were things in the movie that should not have happened. No spoilers offered.

I would not recommend going to see it, especially if you have already read the books.