Like I’ve been saying for weeks, I went in there hoping for the rubs, hoping to see a movie that would get me off. I think we all were – Cynthia Loyst, Jessica Allen, and I went together, with no expectations but with also with no hate. Rather, we were primed to be horny.
That’s … not what happened.
You know what did happen though?
We all fell in love with Dakota Johnson.
I KNOW, RIGHT?
She’s a delight. She is a DISCOVERY. And it’s impossible not to watch her in this film and to be utterly charmed by her as Anastasia Steele… say what?
I KNOW, RIGHT?
But this is what Kelly Marcel, who wrote the screenplay, Sam Taylor-Johnson, and Dakota Johnson have achieved together – they’ve not only improved upon EL James’s bullsh-t character, they’ve completely redefined her. Taking away that vile “inner goddess” monologue freed them to give Anastasia a personality. And this Anastasia is wry but playful, and assertive, and funny – holy sh-t, she’s subversively funny – and, yes, that makes her sexy. That makes her the Star.
She is 100% the Star of this movie. Which is what was so unexpected. Because it’s always been Christian Grey, Christian Grey, Christian Grey. Because Anastasia was a poor excuse for a character. But away from the books, through the direction of Sam Taylor-Johnson, she’s now become interesting. And the most obvious symbol of that might be her giggle. Think about the skill that’s required in making a giggle not only tolerable but attractive, beguiling, irresistible. It’s not just about how Dakota Johnson sounds, it’s also when that sound gets your attention, at what moments, and how it’s complemented. To me, that’s more than just the actor’s performance, that’s also a director’s instinct. And that instinct is how Sam Taylor-Johnson turned this movie from a Zero into… a solid Three, if not Four, maybe even a Five out of Ten, if you’re feeling generous. After all, half of it is understanding your narrator. And I do. When Dakota Johnson delivers a line, an expression, when she dances, when she laughs, I’m with her, I believe her.
The problem, however, is that I don’t believe the rest of it. And that, unfortunately, is all on him, Jamie Dornan. I mean, he’s beautiful. BEAUTIFUL. Sam’s “gaze” on him only elevates that. Apart from the helicopter shot that I complained about, in which his mothering hips take away from his physical appeal, she shot him from the best angles, minimising views of that awkward gait, highlighting his best attributes. And if the entire movie was just that, we’re good, we can live here.
But then he starts talking. And he’s either too focused on covering his Irish accent (he might as well have been Irish because he CANNOT do an American one) or so mortified by the story or who he’s playing that he takes away from all the great work that Dakota’s just given him. The only scene that actually works when they’re speaking to each other is one where they’re sitting 5 feet apart at a conference table negotiating the contract. And the reason it works is because she’s so cute and sassy and smart and his lines are basically two or three words at a time. In short bursts of dialogue, he doesn’t have the chance to ruin the chemistry.
But it’s not like Jamie Dornan can’t act. If you’ve watched The Fall, you know that he can. In Fifty Shades Of Grey however, there’s just not enough… commitment? You can see him doubting his decisions constantly. So if he doesn’t believe it, how are you supposed to get there?
They NEVER GET THERE.
You want to know about the sex?
Everyone’s talking about how there’s not enough sex. I’m OK with the “amount” of sex. What’s disappointing is the “quality” of the sex. At least let me hear a little skin on skin contact. Like, you don’t want to go full on porn, I get it, but…there has SOME pumping, non? Grinding? Thrusting?
There is a thrusting deficit.
There is also a come deficit.
Three or four sex scenes. Passion level is adequate. Mr Grey isn’t talking. We’re set up to get down. And then…
NONE of the sex scenes end on come face.
THERE IS NO COME FACE.
There is no climax.
Don’t you want to see one of them have an orgasm, AT LEAST ONCE???
I’m not saying he has to jizz on her face. I’m just asking for a shot of his face, his brow furrowed intensely, his mouth falling slightly open as his breathing becomes more laboured, and maybe a low moan when he finally gets there, eyes closed, like he’s in pain…but, obviously, not.
At least it’s a takeaway visual you can go home to, you know?
Maybe that’s the point though. Blue balls to set up the sequel?