“ What is it about elevators?” While those words sound more like the opening of a joke, when uttered by Christian Grey they take on a whole different meaning. The film that every woman in America and quite possibly their dates, might be waiting for has finally arrived for your viewing pleasure and on Valentine’s Day no less the film version of “Fifty Shades of Grey hits the screen. With such anticipation there are bound to be expectations, both good and bad, the question is, whose expectations will be met?
For those who have been living under a rock, or is a single male, “Fifty Shades of Grey” is the first novel in a set of three written by E.L. James that began as part of Twilight Fan Fiction. While it might have been inspired by “Twilight”, there are no vampires in this story. Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) is a English Lit major, who helps out a ailing friend complete an interview for the school’s paper. The man she is to interview is a young billionaire named Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), a single and mysterious man, who seems to have a thing for being in control. During the interview there is a spark that ignites between Anastasia and Christian, one that raises the curiously about each other and begs to be explored. At first Christian tells Anastasia that she is not his type, but like anything that is not good for us, the pull is too strong for both of them to stop it. The problem is Anastasia wants a “normal” relationship, but the relationship Christian is seeking is anything but. With contracts drawn up, and a late night negotiating session, Anastasia and Christian try and work out their relationship as they both get closer to being what the other one wants.
Now having not read a single page of Mrs. James’s novels, I had pretty low expectations from what I know of the story and what I have seen of the movie. While fans of the novel were not all that happy with the casting of Dornan, my worry was it was just going to be another bad love story. Well I was wrong, well maybe not completely, but I didn’t hate it like I thought I would. Now I know that is not a ringing endorsement, but hear me out. While Dornan was not impressive as Grey, Johnson was outstanding as Anastasia and commanded your attention in every scene she was in. With the help of a good soundtrack it makes a good portion of the film watchable. The screenplay written by Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr. Banks) has its downfalls, but I would place that blame on the source material more than on Marcel’s writing. Another positive is the direction of Kelly Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy), who sets the mood and also might get you in the mood with her effort. With all of these things working for it, it’s the performance by Dornan and the finial twenty minutes of the film that brings everything down. While leaving, I got to hear different opinions from the book readers of what they thought of their beloved novel becoming a film. From what I heard it sounded pretty mixed with that crowd, but from a movie standpoint it is not fifty shades of great, but then again at least it’s not fifty shades of crap either.
Oh yeah, and there is 20 minutes worth of sex scenes. Enjoy.