So my Valentines day this year, like that of many film critics was hampered somewhat by the mandatory viewing of a film series that I would have otherwise avoided if I didn’t decide that I wanted to force my opinion on other people professionally. 50 Shades of Grey has become a phenomenon; it is commendable that author E.L. James has turned a free Twilight fanfiction into a multimillion media franchise. It is just a shame that it is awful.
The 50 Shades series returns to cinema screens with 50 Shades Darker. Anastasia Steel has left Christian Grey after the events of the first movie and has started a job as an assistant at a publishing firm. However Christian Grey returns to renegotiate their relationship, here is a clip of that discussion.
I hoped that it was over when the actors threatened to leave this series, but it’s not. Here we go. This is going to be a hard film to talk about not because of its erotic content or because of the disgusting and misogynistic behaviour exhibited by Christian Grey, but because it was sooooooooo dull.
Everything about it is flat and well grey. The cinematography is cookie cutter shot reverse shot for dialogue scenes, b-roll for establishing shots and the supposedly steamy sex scenes are also presented monotonously especially when you get the last one of the film.
The performances are mind-numbingly colourless. It is clear to see that neither of the actors wants to be there anymore, some making it more clear than others. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan can both be good performers; Dornan, for example, was excellent in TVs the Fall as the creepy serial killer Paul Spector. So seeing them spew painfully awkward dialogue and then bang is embarrassing and all I feel is sympathy for people whose careers may have been ruined by such atrocious drivel. Dakota Johnson is trying unbelievably hard to make Anastasia likeable and interesting but the material is just tripe, with god-awful cringy attempts at humour, almost like 50 Shades is trying to disguise itself as a romantic comedy rather than porn.
A brief aside, I hear that this is a series for women, but the camera spends more time leering over Dakota Johnson, not at Jamie Dornan’s chiselled abs. Are filmmakers trying to placate the poor boyfriends and partners who have been dragged along to see this film with tits and arse? I am asking because I would like to know, who was this shot for?
However, the main problem is the story derived from the hackneyed, glorified fan fiction by author E L James. The main problem with the first film was there was no plot outside a sex contract, high drama I know, the problem with this film is there is too much drama like a crazy stalker, a helicopter crash, a creepy boss and the reveal of Mrs Robinson mentioned in the last movie. But despite that this is a story with no stakes, there are tiny bumps that cause moments of tension between the characters and shake the relationship. But all of these are resolved literally seconds after being set up; Anastasia and Christian have sex, and then the problem is forgotten.
50 Shades Darker is a draining experience, it sucks the life out of you as it plays, with its boring cinematography and editing, non-existent plot, laughable attempts to be titillating and awkward passes at what I thought was humour. It is a waste of time and money, DO NOT BOTHER. The best thing about my trip to the cinema was that the parking payment machine was broken so I saved some money, shame about the price of admission.