The much-anticipated Fifty Shades of Grey hit theaters Friday night, just in time for Valentine’s Day. Couples and single ladies alike flocked to cinemas around the country to see how the movie would play out. It is always a magical experience seeing a novel come to life on ‘the big screen’. How will the characters compare to what you envisioned? What passages will be left out, and will any be added? These thoughts and many more will flicker through your mind as you wait in line with dozens of others who will undoubtedly be wondering the same thing. In the case of Fifty Shades, fans of the book will likely be disappointed by the lack of character development but will hopefully find solace in the underplayed humor Dakota Johnson (Ana Steele) brings to the table.
The Film opens strong with beautiful scenery, a well thought out pallet of colors, and artistic film making but begins a descent into confusion not long after. With the first half hour of the film will come deja vu of a largely despised movie, Twilight.
This isn’t much of a surprise given that The Fifty Shades trilogy was developed from a Twilight Fan Fiction series originally titled Master of the Universe and published on fan-fiction websites under the pen name “Snowqueen’s Icedragon”. The story featured characters Edward Cullen and Bella Swan, but given the sexual nature of the material and a few complaints, James removed the story from the fan-fiction websites and published it on her own website, FiftyShades.com. The piece was transformed into the novel we know today as Fifty Shades of Grey. Should E.L. James be criticized for how the best-selling novel got its start? Absolutely not, she must be doing something right given its mass success, but it certainly explains some of the similarities.
With any novel that is produced into a movie, you expect that certain parts will be left out in order to meet a time limit. However with this movie, it seems as though there should have been more time spent getting to know the characters and their supporting actors because they played a larger role in the novels. The lack of information and fast-paced story line made the plot seem slightly messy and a little trite.
Despite flaws, certain aspects of the film were spot on and must be celebrated. Jamie Dornan captures Christian Grey’s essence perfectly in the iconic and steamy elevator scene where we get the first real glimpse of the passionate and forceful man that he is. The theater seemed as though it was on the brink of erupting into applause for the much-anticipated scene. Dakota Johnson’s portrayal of Ana created a likable, relatable, and very witty character. I found myself riding alongside her on the emotional roller coaster that is Christian Grey. Her performance was quite moving, my heart ached for her sadness and leapt for joy when her ‘inner goddess’ won over the highly controlling man.
The sex scenes quickly clamber up the scale of ferocity without every really threatening to get to the point of “oh my god, I’m watching a porno” as many assumed it would. The first glimpse Ana gets of Christians ‘inner demons’ is also our introduction to the infamous Red Room of Pain. The Crimson colored room depicts antique looking crops, canes, whips and a very thought-provoking bed that would be sure to send most women running. But with a man as sexy and alluring as Christian by her side, can we really fault Ana for her determination to compromise in an attempt to make a relationship work?
Throughout the novel the two battle to balance Grey’s sexual dependencies with Ana’s lack of experience. Although Christian paints himself as n unromantic, demonic animal, who by his own account is “Fifty shades of f*cked up”, we grow to see how Ana is starting to change him. We see a glimpse of his past as we start to understand what has caused this successful playboy-philanthropist to become so disheveled. Although Grey’s eyes remain dry at the conclusion of the movie, a contrast to Ana’s tear-streaked cheek, the emotions behind them are undeniable as the passion in his voice is evidence enough of his pain.
Despite the lack of character development and sometimes overly hokey scenes, I found myself looking forward to a sequel, two of which are in the works. Will it win academy awards and go down in history as the best Film of the 21st century? No, I highly doubt it. But if you’re looking for a fun erotic drama with an impressive soundtrack and interesting premise to watch on a Saturday night, Fifty Shades of Grey is right up your alley.