Movie Review: 50 Shades of Grey

Since viewing the trailer last May, I've been moaning "uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh, oh no no" every chance I get.  Well, maybe just randomly during conversations with friends.  I watched it numerous times, anticipating the moment I could see ALL 50 shades of Mr. Grey from platinum to slate, and everything in between.  Me and a few friends made this our Valentine's Day outing.

I wasn't sure what to expect.  There has been a lot of hype around the movie due to the popularity of the book.  Admittedly, E.L. James is no Charles Dickens, but the sexy billionaire with mommy issues and a twitchy palm seemed to beat any "great expectations" readers had for timeless literature.  I'm sure hot sex scenes and BDSM might have had something to do with its widespread reception. 

From the beginning scene with James Dornan running in the rain, my body perked up.  Ummm...who is he and where has he been?  His portrayal of Christian Grey was remarkable.  From his intense, borderline psychotic stares to his seductive movements, it was as if he had climbed right out of the pages of James's books onto the screen.

Dakota Johnson's performance as Anastasia Steele was hit and miss in my opinion.  It took a bit for me to get into her. Let's start with her interview with Christian.  While I don't recall the details of the book itself, her chewing on the tip of the pencil felt manufactured.  She went from tripping in the doorway to chewing seductively on the tip of a pencil (one that she herself didn't bring into the interview) in a matter of minutes.  One could argue that it was a nervous habit of hers, but eh. 

Steele's character in the movie seemed more sure of herself than in the book.  Less of the annoying inner dialog and more back talk to Christian's craziness.  Yes!  Johnson's character maintained the naive, curious traits from the book while adding more individuality.  When she told Christian she was going to visit her mother in Savannah, she didn't back down even after he had his little tantrum.  Sure he practically dragged her from the table then stalked her all the way down there (red flag), but she didn't back down.  Simply put, Ana was less pathetic in the movie.  And I approve of that message.

Other reviews that I've read called the chemistry between Johnson and Dornan into question.  I saw a magnetic pull between the two of them.  The kind of attraction that keeps a person coming a moth to a flame.  Christian is mysterious, dangerous, and exciting.  His behavior is erratic.  He warns Ana to stay away.  Yet the two of them can't seem to abstain from one another.  Ana sees the signs, but lets her curiosity get the best of her while Christian struggles with his demons and newfound love for her.  It all comes to a head at the end when she asks him to show her how bad he wants to hurt her, and he does.  Something about that scene gripped me.  His satisfaction, her pain and tears. Yeah, I'd definitely say there was a twisted chemistry there.

Now I'm going to get downright nit picky.  Those shoes she wore.  Can wardrobe please intervene?  Can the budget be increased?  Can we start a crowdfunding campaign?  I just really, really want her to have better shoes for the next movie.  Also, Dakota looked old(er) to me.  There were a few times during movie when I thought to myself "she looks a little long in the tooth to play Anastasia".  As it turns out, Dakota Johnson is only 25.  Not sure if she's a natural blond, but she does look more youthful with blond hair in my opinion.  But as we all know, Ana is a brunette.  Still thought it was worth mentioning though.

Overall, I'd have to say this is one of the only movies that I enjoyed more than the book itself.  50 Shades of Grey was a decent read.  The director did a great job of extracting the essence of the characters without inundating the audience with unnecessary details.  Almost all of the scenes were exactly as I had imagined them while reading the book.  Kudos  And the ending.  We all knew it was coming, but we didn't think it would be so abrupt.  They set it up perfectly for a sequel.  I didn't leave disappointed, and look forward to the next opening weekend.