Review / ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ (MA) * and a half

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DRIVING this film is volume one in E L James’s best-selling fictional trilogy peeking behind the curtains of BDSM, a sexual behaviour that few but its practitioners would really understand.

Some might call it a perversion. A more libertarian view is that how consenting (and therefore presumably informed) adults get their erotic kicks is nobody else’s business.

Sam Taylor-Johnson’s second feature (in 2009 I gave three and a half stars to her bio-pic “Nowhere Boy”, recounting John Lennon’s childhood before becoming a Beatle) looks elegant. But that’s pearls before swine.

A goodly portion of the film’s 129 minutes involves billionaire entrepreneur and control freak Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) persuading undergraduate Anastasia (Dakota Johnson), a virgin in her early twenties when the story begins, that she will come to realise that the pain she feels from his ministrations is really pleasure. I suspect that Grey’s money, his only redeeming feature, is her real reason for putting up with hm. Her writhings and mewings fall short of those characterising orgasm, dishonouring the desideratum that the woman’s need should come first.

A boring book gives birth to a boring film. Many people including me have begun and put aside volume one as boring. Although a friend, a published author in an admirably stable and fulfilling marriage, told us over lunch of putting fresh batteries in her vibrator and adjourning to the bedroom to read it.

Kelly Marcell, whose career began with adapting a famous X-rated movie into a stage musical, has taken the easy way with the screenplay. Short on dialogue. Little exploration of motivation. Plot credibility that’s hard to believe. Characters struggling to achieve two dimensions.

The film ends with a horrifying portent. There are two more volumes in the trilogy.

At all cinemas, two screens in some!

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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