Monday, February 23, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey: Review

Cinemark Ticket Stub
Dropping the big bucks.

I never read the books.  I came to this completely fresh.  I wasn't expecting much, just a film that was a pleasure to look at.  There were two women who attended when I did and they were definitely appreciating it as a guilty pleasure, giggling nervously throughout.  If you're like that, I recommend a viewing for sure.   

Setting and Location

This film supposedly takes place primarily in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.  However, I was pleased to recognize what appeared to be Vancouver buildings in some of the early shots during the credits.  Sure enough, Vancouver, British Columbia was the primary filming location for this film.  However, there are gorgeous establishing shots of Seattle.

Appropriately, much of this film is rainy.  It was rainy on my way to the theater and later on in the evening.  I love it when movie rain lines up with real-life rain.  Always magical.

Jamie Dornan
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey.  Helicopter moment.

The Look

This film captures a variety of slick cosmopolitan scenes: penthouses, high-rise offices, university spaces, coffeehouses, even a slick hardware store.  Two major set-pieces, a nighttime helicopter ride and a daytime glider excursion, both portrayed very romantically from the lead's perspective, also make the film pop.  Wardrobe and make-up made Dakota Johnson look exceptionally appealing.

Dakota Johnson
Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steel.

The Story

This film is about a young woman in college, Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), who meets Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) for an interview for a college/student publication.  There is chemistry.  Grey pursues her.  She starts swooning over him.  He sweeps her off her feet.

However, the bombshell is dropped.  The BDSM stuff.  She has to be okay with that if they are going to be a thing.  They start negotiating a contract.  She continues life.  He increasingly does things he never has in order to be with her.

It appears that she hopes she can change him.  Cure.  Fix.  Tame the beast.  This is her big flaw.  Tensions rise.  Beyond that, there is nothing more to say without spoiling it.

The Controvery

Some have complained that the story takes a disapproving look at the BDSM lifestyle.  Some probably feel the opposite.  Some may feel the BDSM depiction is too superficial.  Some, of course, don't like the explicit sexuality.  Some didn't like Jamie Dornan's expression of discomfort and dirtiness from playing the role. 

I found 50 Shades of Grey to be a safe, relatively tasteful film.  It is, after all, a film about sex, so some nudity is not out of bounds.  The task of this film shouldn't be a crash course in BDSM, it should simply be entertaining, and then maybe a life-changing, empathic experience for viewers.  I thought the film was a little longer than needed, probably would've been better if it was 15-20 minutes shorter.  However, I was pretty captivated until those last scenes (when I was checking my watch).

Final Observations

Anastasia Steele is a very strong, intelligent character.  And her voice is strengthened by the end.  Additionally, the sexiest scene in this film does not involve nudity or actual sex acts, but a contract negotiation.  As they sit across from each other in a dark room, at opposite ends of a large desk, they go over the such terms as "suspension," various forms of "fisting," and others.  This is a particularly kinky and cute scene.  Her strength is on full display here. 

I'm in no hurry to watch this again.  That said, if I'm in the mood for some Pacific Northwest pseudo-erotica/would-be romance/Dakota Johnson at her most glamorous, I'll seek this out again.  Definitely a looker.

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