Based on the romantic novels by E. L. James, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ was the first instalment of the now enormous franchise, and despite me definitely not being the film’s target audience, the film itself is a near-complete disaster in regards to both it’s writing, and it’s filmmaking. As unless you’re looking for a weak romantic story with bland acting, uninteresting characters and one of Danny Elfman’s weakest original scores to date. This is not the film for you.
When literature student: ‘Anastasia Steele’ goes to interview billionaire: ‘Christian Grey’, she discovers an attractive yet troubled man, soon leading her to discover more of herself, as she later desires to be with him, despite his stalker-like tendencies.
‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is one of those few films that turned itself into a successful series purely though pulling in its specific type of audience. As the film doesn’t really have much to offer besides the occasional sex scene or romantic moment, which really left me wondering what many viewers actually got out of the overall experience, as take those elements away, and the film truly has very little left, and I can’t really say I feel the need to continue on through the franchise after watching this first instalment.
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan portray the main couple of the film: ‘Anastasia Steele’ and ‘Christian Grey’, with the supporting cast of Eloise Mumford, Jennifer Ehle and Victor Rasuk. All of which give very dull performances throughout the film, especially with the lack of characterisation between them other than ‘Christian’s (overly dramatic) backstory. This is also where one of my biggest issues with the film comes into play, as Jamie Dornan as ‘Christian Grey’ could easily be seen as a dangerous psychopath throughout the film, as his performance genuinely gave me a feeling of unease whenever he is on-screen. Unfortunately however, I don’t feel this is what the filmmakers intended, and I couldn’t help but think of the huge shift in tone if ‘Christian Grey’ was older and less attractive.
Seamus McGarvey handles the cinematography throughout the film, which despite not being anything incredibly impressive, the film does have the occasional pleasing shot throughout its runtime, this also applies to the lighting throughout the film. However, this doesn’t improve the film much overall, as the writing within ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is without a doubt one of it’s worst aspects. Resulting in many scenes becoming unintentionally hilarious or extremely cheesy, especially when the film is attempting to catch the viewer off-guard with its dialogue. Interestingly, during the filming of the film’s various sex scenes, remote-controlled were utilized so that the set could be more private for the actors, which is actually quite a creative way around the problem of the cast feeling incredibly awkward due to the huge number of film crew watching nearby.
Despite being a composer I usually adore, the original score by Danny Elfman is also very bland, as the score throughout the film always feels out-of-place and isn’t memorable in the slightest. The film also uses a variety of songs throughout its story, many of which being remixes of modern pop-songs, which again, usually don’t fit the tone of the film even remotely. The direction throughout the film is quite minimal regardless however, as director Sam Taylor-Johnson hasn’t actually directed a feature-length film before this one, yet she eventually would go on to direct the drama: ‘A Million Little Pieces’ in 2019.
Although only a small element, one slightly redeeming aspect of the film I actually did enjoy is the film’s colour palette, as throughout the narrative a variety of locations are given grey walls and floors, with ‘Christen Grey ‘ also wearing grey clothes alongside some other grey-coloured furniture within his apartment. All of which plays into the theme of: ‘Christian Grey’ being in constant control. But going by the rest of the film, this was more than likely accidental.
In conclusion, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is a film that will only appeal to the audience that has most likely already seen the entire trilogy, as the dull performances, awful writing and forgettable original score all leave the film with very little to offer. As the sex scenes and decent cinematography/lighting simply aren’t enough to carry the film through, resulting in a film that doesn’t really even understand what its purpose was to begin with. Overall, a 2/10. Definitely give this one a miss, as this boring experience simply isn’t worth its runtime.