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Movie Breakdown: Fifty Shades Of Grey (Noah)

February 12, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

The literary opus that is Fifty Shades of Grey was Twilight fan-fic that some “skilled” author was able to rearrange into a campy bit of mom-porn that brought BDSM cat-o-nine swinging into the American popular conscience. The film, perhaps as it should, looks like a softcore porn I would have recorded off of HBO before the internet existed.

The Reality:

At some point in the unending cycle of softcore BDSM, stilted dialogue, and the smug, unmoving face of Jamie Dornan I realized that sitting through Fifty Shades of Grey was equivalent to a night spent getting fleeced in a seedy, edge-of-town casino where there are no windows or clocks and all you can do is watch a paunchy dealer throw down cards and take your money. In the first thirty minutes of this film, as Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) are meeting-cute and falling into some sort of contractually obligated “butt plug” situation, you think, this story has the potential of, if not being good, at least having a story that one could presumably follow along with. Narrative complications are introduced (Anastasia is a virgin! Christian doesn’t like romance!), characters are developed (Anastasia works at a hardware store!), and the idea of this being a movie with the traditional ideas of beginning, middle and end seems almost possible. Yet at perhaps the 20 minute mark after Christian asks Anastasia to sign a contract letting him keep her as his willing sex slave, Christian “rectifies the problem” of her lack of sexual experience and then the rest of the film is a bloated, overlong ode to the most boring relationship ever in existence. Nothing happens in this movie. It’s like a fictionalized version of The Bachelor, except instead of many women trying and failing to fuck a rich dude, it’s one woman and one man, and they pretty much like each other and aside from the dude’s interest in bondage, they have a pretty normal (i.e. slightly fucked-up relationship). You could describe this film as a series of vignettes where a woman gets more comfortable with the idea of being tied up and diddled, but every vignette follows the exact same cues – woman is excited to be in the company of rich man, rich man wants to tie woman up, woman doesn’t want to get tied up, man says relationship is a no go, woman seems sad, they have sex. Over and over and over again. It almost feels experimental, like a Sartre play where you’re stuck in this hellish cable television version of wealth and BDSM and just when you think something is going to happen, you get Groundhog’s Dayed and you’re right back at the grand piano trying not to let some guy tie you up. I could go on and on and on and on about the aspects of this film that fail (nearly everything – especially the awkward approach to representing BDSM in a more mainstream light) but I’ll end on a high note – Dakota Johnson. I don’t know if she’s ever been in anything else, but with the garbage dialogue and shit source material she’s given, she is still charming, sexy, and downright likable. Which makes it almost impossible to believe that she would fall for the wooden board with a face painted on it that is Jamie Dornan. The experience of watching Fifty Shades of Grey is equivalent to what I dream is Hell is like.

The Lesson:

I don’t even know. Egregious nudity alone cannot save a movie.

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Movie Breakdown: Fifty Shades Of Grey

February 12, 2015

0 Comments

People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

The immensely popular “erotic romance novel” Fifty Shades of Grey gets adapted for the big screen.  Horny people everywhere are stoked.

The Reality:

Buried somewhere deep in Fifty Shades of Grey is a movie I’d like to see.  Now, that’s not to say director Sam Taylor-Johnson’s adaptation is terrible.  It isn’t.  Far from it, actually.  The film just isn’t particularly good either, though I’m not sure it really ever had the chance to be.  Many of the movie’s faults – giggle-worthy dialogue and sex scenes, a soundtrack riddled with out of place pop artists, a bare-bones story – seem less like questionable decisions and more like unavoidable ones, as there’s clearly a drive to deliver the kind of movie that the zillion fans of the book expect/want.  I get that.  However, the shiny, smutty shallowness demanded by said fans blots out a couple of charged, but nicely layered performances by Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, and it also stomps on what could have been an interesting look at sex, relationships and what you’re willing to do for someone else.  Oh well.  At least now we all know “it is what it is” and that’s that.  See it if you want, but don’t expect to get much out of it other than something to chuckle about with your friends.

One final note, my favorite part about the movie was Christian Grey’s playroom.  Outside of it he’s always in a suit and looking super professional.  In the sex dungeon though, he is shirtless and in … ripped up jeans.  Whenever the couple enter the room, there’s soft music and slo-mo … and Grey’s ripped up, mall-bought jeans.  Surely there had to have been a better pants option to make him look rugged and wild.  I laughed out loud every single time.

The Lesson:

Pay attention to those red flags, ladies.

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