Fifty Shades of Grey – movie review

Fifty Shades of Grey seems like two separate movies incongruously spliced together. One movie is a romantic “chick flick” about an innocent and shy young college girl being seduced by an incredibly handsome billionaire only a few years older than her. Then there is the other movie, about a creepy rich guy who receives pleasure from giving pain to naked women he ties up in a room he calls his “play room.”

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The star of the movie is Dakota Johnson, who is the daughter of actors Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith. She does an excellent portrayal of Anastasia Steele, a shy English Lit major who interviews billionaire Christian Grey for her college newspaper. From the moment the two meet, there is an immediate attraction which viewers realize will soon lead to romance.  Mr. Grey is played by Jamie Dornan, who when he is not acting apparently spends every waking moment working out at the gym. (OK we admit being jealous of this guy’s looks).

Despite his looks and money, Mr. Grey has not been linked romantically with any women. There is even speculation he might be gay. He seems to be very socially awkward and shy when it comes to romance.

So far it seems like a lovely romance story.  The successful but socially inept billionaire who is gradually being brought out of his shell by his beautiful new lover. The fact that he is so rich means that Christian can do things like take Anastasia to dinner in  another city by flying her there in his own helicopter. What’s not to like?

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Well, it turns out there’s a lot not to like abut Christian Grey. His main goal is to make Anastasia his “Submissive”. He, of course, gets to be the “Dominant”. He even presents her with a a written contract he wants her to sign agreeing to the terms. Now we will admit we don’t get the whole bondage thing, and this contract only reenforces our opinion. It is hard to imagine that any woman in her right mind would sign such a contract. The “Submissive” has to agree to do anything the “Dominant” wants.  The Submissive cannot  talk to or initiate any physical contact with the Dominant. The Submissive agrees to be beaten, whipped, tied up, and have various instruments used on her. This contract goes on for many pages.

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Anastasia, to her credit, does not sign the contract, but she is willing to experiment with some of the milder suggestions of Christian just to give it a try. However, she does these things out of love for Christian, not because the acts seem erotic to her.

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This brings up the whole question of how we are supposed to think about Christian Grey. Is he a confused young man who has been searching desperately for true love? Or, is he a sexual sadist who is using his financial power to force a woman to do something against her will?

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Certainly, there have been a lot of women’s groups who have expressed their outright hatred for Mr. Grey. There is a lot of evidence that Mr. Grey is, in fact,  a sexual predator and not a romantic. He has chosen to pursue Anastasia who is very shy, has no money, is younger than him, and is a virgin.  He gives her elaborately expensive gifts including a computer and a new car. He has the habit of  showing up wherever she is, even when she goes halfway across the country to be alone with her mother.  Are these the acts of a romantic boyfriend or of a stalker?

All Mr. Grey wants in return for the gifts and attention is for Anastasia to completely submit herself to him in his “playroom” (or torture chamber depending upon your point of view).

Many woman have pointed out that Mr. Grey is the type of abuser who does not get much attention in the press. These men are the types of men who purposely choose emotionally weak women and then slowly put more and more pressure on them until the woman finally  gives the man what he wants.  They give in simply because they are too exhausted to keep saying “No”.

Ironically, there is another group of moviegoers who did not like the film for a completely opposite reason. These are the people who do like bondage, and wanted to see a very graphic film with some real hard core S&M scenes. There is nothing like that in the movie.

Dakota Johnson is naked for a good portion of the film and she does look beautiful. However, any so-called “bondage” scenes are very mild stuff and will not satisfy the real S&M crowd.

Fans of Jamie Dornan will also be disappointed. He had it specifically written into his contract that his penis was not be be shown on film. You do get a few peaks at his rear, and of course his six-pack abs are shown, but that is all.

The movie is actually interesting,  if for no other reason than to see what decisions Anastasia will make regarding Mr. Grey and his offers.  However, we have to admit that we actually would have enjoyed it more if it had just been the “chick flick” about two “normal” lovers.

We give this movie 3 Stars ***

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