Film’s lack of passionate acting, storyline seals fate

By Jack Ryan, For The Miami Student

There is so much wrong with “50 Shades of Grey,” and these issues don’t lie in the film’s BDSM subject matter. Instead, these problems rest in almost every other facet of the movie, from its (mostly) poor acting, dumbed-down symbolism and imagery, massive cliches and atrociously bad script.

“50 Shades of Grey” begins like many romance films, with boy meeting girl. Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) is a stoic and intimidating billionaire, and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) is an absurdly nervous literature student who must interview him on behalf of her ill friend. They are polar opposites, but there’s annoyingly obvious sexual tension here. Soon after their brief encounter, they begin seeing each other. She discovers that he is into BDSM, he discovers that she is a virgin. Pretty soon, the movie boils down to a weird,  “how kinky will the next scene be,” question, as there is no real plot.

If you’re seeing this movie, there’s a pretty high chance it’s because you want to see what all the fuss is about, sex-wise. And honestly, the intimate scenes are one of the worst parts of this film, playing out like something you’d stumble across on Cinemax in the early hours of the morning.

Dornan essentially ends up playing the role of a sadistic Abercrombie jeans model, the scenes are drenched in sappy music that detaches the audience even further, and Dornan and Johnson have horrible chemistry. There is no passion here, only stereotypes.

The contrast between Grey’s vampire-esque demeanor and Anastasia’s over-innocence becomes aggravatingly obvious, as if this is some sort of erotic Twilight fan-fiction brought to life. Though, that’s because it is.

The novel of the same name, written by E.L. James, started out as an online series based off of Stephenie Meyer’s YA fiction books, and the screenwriting here may honestly be worse than that of any of the Twilight films.

The dialogue is horrible (see: “Laters, baby”), Grey randomly decides to end his secrecy act and explain huge parts of his backstory not once, but twice, and Anastasia really cannot make up her mind on whether she’s an innocent little girl, a sassy teenager or an actual, serious adult. It’s like the screenwriters are creating their character arcs with short term memory loss.

The film also has some sort of inferiority complex towards the viewer, overemphasizing all traits of the characters, in a way that is redundant instead of convincing. The ending of “50 Shades” is no better, concluding with a whimper and leaving almost every open question unresolved.

If there’s one small beacon of light in this otherwise dreadful film, it’s Dakota Johnson. She’s convincing, in control and sticks to her horribly-written character pretty well. Had she been given a better partner, dialogue and direction, she could have had a breakout role here. However, Dornan is just miserable to watch, and it tolls on Johnson’s acting. Even for his secretive character, he is over-reserved in every aspect, seeming bored when he should be tortured inside.

“50 Shades of Grey” continues a long tradition of bad Valentine’s Day romance releases, and with two expected sequels on the way, it’s becoming increasingly evident that we’re going nowhere anytime soon. If you’re looking for something that truly explores and exposes human sexuality, watch Lars von Trier’s epic “Nymphomaniac.” If you’re looking for a fun romantic flick with your significant other, watch Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Punch Drunk Love.” If you’re looking to waste 10 bucks and two hours, feel free to grab a ticket to “50 Shades of Grey.”

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