“Fifty Shades of Grey” is like “9 1/2 Weeks” reconceived as a Lipitor commercial. You know the ad: Perfectly sculpted and groomed models miming real life in sets and locations that look like a high-end catalog, but with no sense that they’ve ever met before, much less that they have lives and personalities.
I haven’t read E.L. James’ books, but I imagine “Fifty Shades” is supposed to be the movie romance equivalent of a Chippendales show: Giggle-inducing but still a little transgressive and certainly sexy. Instead it’s sterile and uninvolving.
I’m guessing the sanitizing of the book’s sex scenes drained the story’s potency, its ability to raise eyebrows and pulses. (Nudity, yes. Actual BD/SM, not really. And no orgasms at all.)
A female Facebook friend who has read the books wrote that the “Fifty Shades” fan base needs to take some of the blame.
“I had a feeling this would happen,” she posted. “Not that the books are even that crazy (and by no means well-written) but the world this was filmed for — the one with gaggles of giggling soccer moms on Girls’ Night!! or suburban housewives dragging their poor husbands because ‘It’s VALENTINE’S DAY’ — is too prudish even for the plot to be fully played out on the big screen.”
But the problems run deeper than the inability to translate the sexual encounters. The set-up is “Twilight” redux — it’s a matter of record that James was writing fan fiction — with a virginal, intellectual, isolated young woman seduced by a hot, mysterious man, drawn to her counter to his own best interests.
Yet while Bella had extra-yummy blood vampire Edward couldn’t resist, it’s a complete mystery why billionaire Mr. Grey would put himself at risk for dull Bella manqué Ana. Not that Grey’s any more magnetic, even if he could pass for an Abercrombie model with his shirt off, as it often is. He hasn’t even got the gravitas to pull off his own sexual domination fetish — he’s tentative and apologetic when he should be unyielding and focused.
Most frustrating, the movie is truncated like a Marvel origin story, leaving the main conflict unresolved and promising a juicier confrontation in Part 2.
Now I know why Charlie Hunnam fled this project. The prospect of years of serving up this half-baked, flavorless concoction probably made him gag.
I’ll let my female Facebook friend have the last word: “Seriously, no orgasms!? Yep. Waiting until it’s available via a cheaper means of consumption.”