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50 Shades of Grey

50 Shades of Grey, but looking for colour.

"There are no lines in nature, only areas of colour, one against another." Edouard Manet.

I have to say, I found it difficult to get through the trilogy of Fifty Shades of Grey, and am still half way through the last book.  I doubt I will ever finish it.  In any case, I have seen the value of these stories, they provide an escape; they are stories that can woo us, tantalise our senses, take us to another world and of course move our world, if not, just a little.  I liken the experience to reading a sci fi story, it is not quite real, but the possibility of it becoming real is always there.  I decided to wait a few days after the opening of Fifty Shades of Grey just to see what kind of hype it was able to generate.  Audiences have flocked to see it and the box office has been lucrative, but the comments have not been all that illustrious.

Ultimately it is a formulaic fairy tale, virginal damsel is pursued by a successful twenty something self made millionaire and introduced to the taboo of S&M where her sexuality is awakened.  No different to Snow White, and her horse riding prince, this one rides his helicopter and the stakes are a little higher and visually there is more nudity and probably a few more ropes and paddles.  I understand the premise, but in making the film, one very important element is amiss; the acting.

Our damsel, Dakota Johnson, lacks sexual energy, strength, power and sassiness and thus does not pull this off.  There is no variation to her voice in the entire film and by the end of it, this aspect alone becomes quite tiresome.  An actor must show the depths of human character in every scene, but she seems to have grasped onto one aspect of Anastasia Steele; the meek and innocent, with the occasional rebel showing through, and hold onto this with dear life as if this is how a woman like Anastasia Steele will be throughout an entire life.  In just the symbolism of the name alone, Anastasia which means 'resurrection', should have been enough for Johnson to understand the inherent power and control that she needed to have as a character, after all, the power always lies with the submissive, this, she and her director did not understand.  Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey, struggles to be that 'Dom' when the chemistry does not fly from one to the other.  He comes across as indifferent and even whilst making love, I wonder who he is really thinking about.

Is it a mismatch? Is it bad casting, bad direction?  Is it really a bad story?  Why does the audience not feel the escape?  My guess is that the sex in the film, due to the mismatch or lack of chemistry between the two actors is the recipe in this disaster.  The sex scenes are tame, simple, bland and not even what I think most people are looking for when they come to see this film, keeping in mind that the film must take us on a journey where out boundaries can be explored in the safety of our seats.  There is no boundary here that most people have not explored or toyed with.  Basically it is not hard core enough, and I'm not talking about pornography here, I'm talking about an edge, or being taken to that edge of what S&M is really about, but what I witnessed in Fifty Shades of Grey was ultimately basic vanilla sex.  And I say, big deal, and who cares?

It is the colour that is not present in the film, and this is not a reference to the grading, but rather to  the variations and emotional spectrum of Steele's and Grey's sexuality and the growth that should have been present via their preference with S&M. I always remember that there are areas of colour and always one against the other.  Pity this is not prevalent in Fifty Shades of Grey.

Stella Dimadis
February 2015


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