Saturday, March 21, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Fifty Shades of Grey

Sam Taylor-Johnson's "Fifty Shades of Grey" might have given good reason to bite your lip if it had some surprises, but sadly there is not much largess that deserves to be bestowed upon this leatherette tale.

Ana (Dakota Johnson) is a modest English literature student who agrees to help a friend Kate (Eloise Mumford) write a college article on the mysterious billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). She initially trips and falls upon meeting the automaton Grey. She blushes a la Cinderella and never recovers from a shrugging hesitant naiveté but for one or two scenes. Dakota Johnson is good at simpering and rolling her eyes, and there is one funny line about this very thing.

Dornan is alternately mechanical and piercing. His expression doesn't emote much either aside from gazes from the glazed to the melting.

As the interview progresses, Ana preposterously asks if Christian Grey is gay, from that point on, his interest is piqued. He is riveted to her, his expression an odd mix of catatonia and desire, aloofness and want. But not certainly not lust. Christian looks at Anna like she is a strange insect on the wall.

"I don't make love. I don't do the girlfriend thing" are just a few of the irresistible things he says.  Ok, smooth talker, your place or mine?

Although Anna's interest isn't plausible, (she is practically kidnapped after a drunken vomiting spell) the concept of Christian's otherness, that he is odd and secret is the singular compelling thing in this film, a parallel to the idea of an alien or vampire.

From the first bland interview, Anna is transfixed but the acting of Johnson doesn't convey this intensity. She often chews on a Grey Industry pen or looks longingly off in the distance.

And watch Christian take a bite of toast from Anna's mouth. What an animal!

More than a few times, Ana tries to break off the contact, but again like a vampire, Grey suddenly and all too quickly appears before her.

Unfortunately though most  of the weird, if ludicrous drama is dispensed with, replaced by laborious talk of "the contract" and an analysis of submission and domination. There are several scenes that start with text messages like : "Did you research? Did you sign? I'm waiting in Seattle".

Every conversation starts with mention of contracts and safe words, but for all the bureaucratic foreplay and uneaten sushi, very few naughty nighties are seen.

Regarding the racy sex scenes, it all feels generic, more of a Valentine's Day Whitman's sampler than whips and it is certainly not sexy to see the supposed accoutrements . A Hammacher Schlemmer catalog has more allure. The scenes feel oddly dated and glazed like so much butter creme in pink and blue, rather than black.

Soon after, any mystery and tension that the film did retain comes to an abrupt halt offering a picnic in pleather rather than guilty pleasure.

The only sin in "Fifty Shades of Grey" is that you don't feel the allure or the danger in these characters, let alone any romantic apprehension.

In the end, the stiff as a board Mr. Grey (although ready-made for possible cult status) is all talk.

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