#50ShadesOfGrey deviates from novel; fails to wow in most aspects

I knew going into this film to not have lofty expectations… And I really didn’t. But the film “50 Shades of Grey,” based on the novel 50 Shades of Grey by E. L. James, failed to live up to any semblance of an expectation I could have had for it. From the terrible dialogue to the atrocious acting from both Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan (both of whom are supposed to actually be decent actors), I was appalled at the depths to which Universal fell in order to push out a chick-flick-friendly version of a pretty terrible book.

A brooding Dornan. Cute, but once he starts delivering those lines, I can’t contain my laughter and it really just ruins the mood 😦

I felt like the producers tried to “Dear John” the story, over-romanticizing much of the interactions between the principal actors (Dakota and Jamie). The weirdest part of it all was their jump from sappy love story to raunchy softcore HBO or Showtime late-night television. The sad part is that those scenes (well, at least the first two) were probably the best scenes “acted out” (what does that say about the performances themselves? 😦 ) throughout the 125 minute film; the last one felt as much of a stretch as the storyline did.

In terms of how the film shaped up against the book itself, I daresay the book was better (which really is not saying much). Having only read the first of the erotic trilogy, I can say with confidence that the plot was, in idea, great, but in execution, it faltered. The writing, just like the dialogue, sounded tired and incapable of stimulating more than the reader’s primal desires. In other words, it played into the sex, while leaving the narrative to flail in the sea that was this whole book. The same could be said about the film in every regard. The only difference is that the film left out multiple memorable scenes. And if I have learned a thing or two about films based on books, it is important to include those most memorable plot points from the novel that fans hold in high esteem within the film itself.

Those eyes. Dornan was not “peak-attractiveness Dornan,” as pictured above. It was as if Jamie himself had emulated Samson: without his facial hair, he had lost his “powers” over audiences everywhere 😦


Side note: one problem I had with both the book and the film was its portrayal of the dominant and submissive populations. As people with sexual orientations that deviate from heteronormative behavior, much of their “culture” (for lack of a better word) is misunderstood and misrepresented. I believe, from my limited studies in Queer Theory, that those who engage in such relationships tend to respect the boundaries of others at all times and that both parties are fully aware of the consequences of their actions. This diverges from the meanings that many have pulled from the novel and film itself. (as I tend to suggest in my posts these days,) This could have been a teachable moment for the film to engage mainstream audiences and educate them on what the whole sexual orientation paradigm really is about. This way, people would not be mis-appropriating the meanings associated with such acts. 

BDSM (submission/dominance) according to #50Shades

One of the only bright moments of this whole ordeal was the soundtrack, though. Today’s biggest names – everyone from Queen Bey to The Weeknd to Sia – were featured on the soon-to-be No. 1-debut album. Some of the standouts from the soundtrack include “Earned It” by The Weeknd, “Meet Me In The Middle” by Jessie Ware, “Undiscovered” by Laura Welsh, and Ellie Goulding‘s “Love Me Like You Do.” The whole album itself is a treasure trove featuring great renditions of classic hits or new material from some amazing established and newbie performers.

Overall, if you are interested in seeing Dakota Johnson in the buff – and I mean seeing everything – or Jamie Dornan’s EVERYTHING (well, almost everything), shell out the $11 it will cost for a ticket. Otherwise, just wait for it to come out on Netflix or Redbox and watch it in the privacy of your own home without being subjected to the judgment of others.

Movie Rating: ★½☆

Soundtrack Rating: ★★★½

Novel Rating: ★★☆