In past years, a bunch of red roses sufficed. Maybe even a box of chocolates, a heart-shaped balloon, or a cheesy teddy saying, “I Love You.” In past years, yes. But not this year. This year, on Valentine’s Day, couples flocked to their nearest cinema and forked over their cash, trading a romantic, candle-lit dinner for two tickets to see Fifty Shades of Grey—the “love” story that has, unfortunately, taken over the world. If you thought your faith in humanity couldn’t stoop any lower after Fifty Shades of Grey became a best-selling novel worldwide and was translated into 52 languages, this film adaption is sure to tip you over the edge.
Written by Kelly Marcel and directed by Samantha Taylor-Johnson, the movie does not stray too far from the original novel written by E.L. James. When Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), a senior at college, goes to interview the young and powerful businessman, Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), it seems to be a case of (extremely awkward) love at first sight. But first impressions can be deceiving. In a sinister twist of fate, Anastasia instead becomes wrapped up in Mr. Grey’s creepy world of dominance and submission, in which she becomes what is effectively his sex-slave. He introduces this virginal, shy English major to his home dungeon where he plans to carry out his sick sexual fantasies which involve an “impressive” collection of handcuffs, whips and blindfolds. It is here that he somehow manages to use his distinct lack of charm and charisma to convince her to bend over while he abuses her verbally, physically, and mentally. Whoever said romance was dead?
Thanks to this cheap storyline, there is nowhere to hide. The screenplay is an abomination and comes as nothing but an utter disappointment after having seen what Marcel is capable of with Saving Mr. Banks (2013). The excessive sex scenes that bombard the movie are actually welcomed breaks from the cringe-worthy dialogue. The characters are shallow, unlikeable, and downright annoying, while the acting is abysmal. It would seem that Dakota Johnson bagged this role based solely on her tight, toned, cellulite-free body while Jamie Dornan crashes and burns. It’s not their fault—they have been given absolutely nothing to work with and quite frankly, it is heartening that neither of these actors could connect with such unattractive characters (in the non-physical sense, of course).
The worst of it, however, is the fact that Facebook and Twitter are actually going crazy with women, young and old, encouraging everyone to go and see this “amazing” film. Fifty Shades of Grey enters into the same territory as Sleeping with the Enemy, but this film suggests that every girl’s fantasy is to find a control-freak stalker who feels he has the right to show up whenever and wherever he likes, sell your car without asking, and limit how much you eat and drink. What is more worrying is that the female creators have portrayed Christian Grey as an abused, troubled individual whose difficult start in life has left him lost, alone, and forced to treat women badly. The cinema was filled with a loud “Awww” when he finally revealed his secret past, proving that Mr. Grey has the power to have just about any woman eating out of the palm of his hand. Yikes.
Releasing the film on Valentine’s Day was clearly a smart marketing ploy as it has already managed to rake in over $30 million over the weekend. For those of you, however, who were not among the crowds of drooling girls or mortified boyfriends queuing outside Cineworld on Saturday, I urge you to avoid this film at all costs. Instead, put your money toward something worthwhile and submit to all of the half-price Valentine’s Day candy that will be dominating the shelves for the next week or so.
Featured Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures