Movie Reviews

Review: A woman's take on 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

By Daphne OngMovies - 13 February 2015 4:51 PM | Updated 4:59 PM

Review: A woman's take on 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

Our Rating

2/5 Stars

The much-awaited movie adaptation of the infamous novel ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ had fans quivering in anticipation – how would the racy depiction of a BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism) relationship be lifted from the page to oh-so-much-motion picture?

More importantly, would it sneak past the censors intact?

To audiences’ surprise, Singapore’s Media Development Authority let the movie hit screens uncut, sticking an R21 rating on it for “mature theme and sexual scenes”, which is arguably the understatement of the season. 

'Fifty Shades of Grey' follows the story of fresh-eyed college graduate Anastasia (played by Melanie Griffith’s daughter Dakota Johnson) encountering the mysterious and surprisingly young mogul Christian Grey (played by Jamie Dornan), and the unconventional liaison that ensues.

'Fifty Shades of Grey' trailer

Christian showers her with extensive and rather creepy attention, coupled with much intense staring into her eyes. Sill, Anastasia is seduced by his lavish Seattle apartment.

He later warns her, to paraphrase, that sex for him has nothing to do with love (yes, that would be something a woman would really love to hear.)

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He even hands her a contract, listing all the rules and sexual practices that will dominate their relationship should she agree.

The rest of the journey sees them negotiating and submitting to each other, in a deepening entanglement that takes both of them out of their comfort zones. 

The book has been criticised for romanticising what is often seen as an abusive relationship, and the movie has made a shift towards depicting a milder and more equal bond between the protagonists.

The interview that started it all | Photo: United International Pictures

The consensual nature of the sexual relationship is conspicuously highlighted in the movie, and they reiterate it several times just in case the audience forgets along the way. 

MORE: Review: A man's take on 'Fifty Shades of Grey' 2/5

Yet, their dialogue often ends up sounding trite, belonging more in a Mills and Boon romance novel, and the sex scenes feel like foreplay for something more explicit.

No amount of nudity and hip-thrusting can mask the lack of chemistry between the two leads in spite of the copious amounts of screen time they spend staring intensely into each others’ eyes, in close-up.

Clothes are shed, but the bedroom action in 'Fifty Shades of Grey' is quite tame | Photo: United International Pictures

Anastasia spends a lot of time with one of three expressions on her face: coy, turned on, or distressed.

Christian has one expression: intense.

It’s hard to say if this is acting ability or directorial choice.

The plus side is that the look of the movie is aesthetically pleasing, beautifully shot from the opening panorama of the city in filtered shades to the fiery palette used during the bedroom scenes.

There are vague hints at possible internal struggle for them both, but these come and go so swiftly and flimsily you might miss them if you yawn.

Yes, you will see a good variety of whips and cuffs. Yes, you will see them being used… mildly. Yes, you will see slapping… a little. Yes, you will see ropes… lightly used. Nothing too shocking.

MORE: 10 most risque Hollywood movies

Even the showing of bare skin is rather touch-and-go (pun intended). If it were meant to be a tease, the movie has succeeded in that department.

So even with the good-looking cast (look out for Dornan’s rear view, though you will see fewer shots of his than you will Johnson’s), the sex scenes, and Christian’s very well-equipped "Playroom", the lasting impression left on the audience is that the sexual romps are bland.

You will grow ever impatient with the shallow characters’ tiresome indecisions, and likely will be saved by a rocking soundtrack that outshines much of the action, keeping your blood pumping during this saggy movie.

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ opens 12 February 2015

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Fifty Shades Of Grey
  • Fifty Shades Of Grey

  • Rated
    R21 /
    Drama, Romance
  • Language
  • (5 Reviews)