“Fifty Shades of Grey” No Big Deal
By Skip Sheffield
What’s the big whoop about “Fifty Shades of Grey?” Search me. I did not read the book, but you can’t escape “Grey” if you read, watch television, listen to radio or simply talk amongst friends. The books, by British author E.L. James, have sold 100 million copies and counting. I don’t get it.
My friend Beth has read all three books of the series. She tells me she likes the first book, upon which the movie is based, the least. Beth says the screenplay (by Kelly Marcel) actually improves upon the original because it jettisons a lot of extraneous stuff. Boy, the original must really be bad. The British director is Sam Taylor-Johnson, whose previous film was the appealing “Nowhere Boy.”
The film stars winsome Dakota Johnson as incredibly naïve Anastasia “Anna” Steele. Looking into Johnson’s huge blue eyes and staring at her lithe, naked body is the best thing about “Grey.”
The premise is preposterous. Anna Steele is a 21-year-old English literature major at Washington State University in Vancouver. When she fills in for her friend Kate (Eloise Mumford) by interviewing Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), a 27-year-old billionaire in Seattle, she is smitten instantly.
Dornan is from Northern Ireland and he turns 33 May 1. I will be the first to admit he is one really good-looking guy and he has a buff body to match. How his character got so rich is not explained. He is “good with people,” which could mean he’s good at bilking people.
Anna thinks she did badly interviewing Christian. He shows up mysteriously at the Portland hardware where she works, and orders cable ties, duct tape and rope. Gee, what could that be for?
I am worldly enough to know there are people who like to inflict pain (sadists) and people who get off on pain (masochists). Christian is the former; Anna the latter- or is she? None of it seems very erotic to me. The 1954 erotic S&M classic “The Story of O” by French novelist Pauline Reage (pen name for Anne Desclos) was a far better book, and quite sad. If you want to see a couple beautiful people making out and simulating sex, by all means enjoy this movie. If not it’s a waste of time.