My Fifty Shades of Grey Movie Review

For us romance fans, it’s been the most anticipated movie in… ever! We’ve hung on every meme, still, cast interview and behind-the-scenes shot we could get our grubby little hands on. We awaited the reveal of this precious cast with bated breath. And last night, I was super excited to see Fifty Shades of Grey, the movie, for the first time, with my group of girlfriends and our token gay.

And I was so disappointed.

As the opening credits rolled, I admit, I emitted a super-girly squeal and braced myself for the heartache and emotional whiplash I experienced when I first read the books, a few years ago, knowing that the ending was going to gut me, but pacified with the knowledge that two more movies would follow, to heal my heartbreak.

When Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson were cast as Christian and Ana, I was sceptical. But they were never going to please everybody, right? And they’re the professionals. So, we should probably reserve judgement and trust them to do these beloved characters justice. And trust them I did.

Well, I stand happily corrected where Anastasia is concerned. Dakota was an absolutely fantastic Ana, and for me, she completely carried this film. She was funny, awkward, gorgeous, ordinary, strong, vulnerable… She really made me love Ana, and seeing as Ana has certainly never been my favourite heroine, I was incredibly impressed with her ability to bring a likeability and backbone to this character, that was seriously lacking in the book. She’s a great example of somebody really bringing a character to life and giving them an identity.

However, as I first feared, I felt Jamie was nowhere near mean, moody, intimidating or charismatic enough to carry off a convincing Christian Grey. For starers, despite his quite spectacular jaw line and admittedly pretty face, he wasn’t physically big and imposing enough for me. He’s a very good looking man, granted. But I wanted raw male, I wanted an undeniably masculine hero that just exudes irresistible testosterone and everything manly. He’s our ultimate book boyfriend and he has been brought to life. I wanted him to make my heart flutter and my breath catch. The reality was so far from my expectations that I could cry. I wanted to feel like he could throw me around a room. Looking at him, I think he might slip a disc if he tried to pick me up.
And secondly, his acting skills left me feeling utterly disconnected and, well… flat. I don’t know whether it was because he is actually Irish and has to ‘do’ the American accent, but I felt that every time he spoke, it was so forced and unnatural. I know CG is supposed to be pretty formal and closed-off, but it was more than that. There’s a big difference between brooding and vacant.
I also noticed that his posture was often stiff and a little robotic, whereas Ana specifically describes Christian as moving fluidly and being beautifully comfortable in his own skin, moving with a grace you wouldn’t expect from such a big man. Jamie could not have been further from this description.

I loved the contract negotiation scene. The banter, the flirting, Dakota’s fabulous portrayal of Ana’s amusement. It was brilliant… until Jamie brought you back down to earth, with a bump, with his sub-par acting and mechanical delivery of his supposedly sexy script.  And I don’t know whether that was Jamie’s fault, or if even the greatest of actors might have struggled to voice those lines without them sounding utterly ridiculous. In the book, it worked. On screen, for whatever reason… not so much.

One plus point goes to the sex scenes. I was intrigued to see whether the sex would come across as tasteful and emotive, or crass and tacky. And I do think it was done well. My only complaint is that, as lovely as she is, we got to see a lot of naked Dakota (yes, full frontals, big bush and all) and not nearly enough lingering on naked Jamie. This movie is primarily for women, so I’m confused as to why we were privy to so much Ana flesh and not so much Jamie flesh. I mean, yes, we got fleeting glimpses. There was a nice bit of ass muscle flexing, some great pulling-shirt-over-head shots, some very low camera shots, at the waistband of those infamous red room jeans and even a flash of ‘root’. Lol! But still, far too many sensual camera-pans across Dakota’s naked body, a lot of tit shots and nowhere near enough sweaty, Christian Grey!

AND I know that adverts are designed to cater to the target audience of the film you are about to see, but can I just say that showing the trailer for Magic Mike, in which Channing Tatum has made a commendable (and very much appreciated) effort to bring us a pair of guns worthy of any gun show grand finale and a cut, tanned body, seemingly carved by the hands of God, did nothing but put Jamie’s body honing efforts to shame. Magic Mike standing on stage in nothing but low slung jeans made my mouth water and my eyes bug. Jamie standing in his red room in nothing but low slung jeans… Meh.
Mike; now there’s a man who could throw me around a room!! Who even cares about the plot of that movie?!

But, I digress… So, lastly, the actual Fifty Shades movie as a whole just did not work for me. It fell a long way short of my expectations. There was so much that wasn’t included, and whilst I appreciate that they had to condense it, in order to make an acceptable length movie, I felt that this really, really affected the story. I didn’t feel one single ounce of emotion for these characters, whereas in the book I was in tears and my heart was pounding at the end. In fact, I think my heart fell asleep half way through this film.

In the book, we really feel the push and pull between Ana and Christian. We feel her turmoil about being so attracted to him, but being terrified of the BDSM side of his life. We feel him blowing hot and cold, closing himself off from her time and again, throwing out all of these mixed signals. I did not get that from the movie at all! The film shows a guy who is into BDSM, who seems very reasonable and fairly ordinary in every other way, who comes across as friendly and open, who wants Anastasia and doesn’t really give out any mixed messages at all. So then, when Ana turns around and is all like ‘What do you want from me? Why can’t you be normal? I want more from you,’ it just doesn’t really work.

Added to this, I felt that there was so much that I loved from the book that just didn’t translate very well at all. I can’t decide whether it was the poor delivery or that hearing some of my formally favourite lines said aloud was unexpectedly cringe-inducing, but either way, cringe I did! A lot.

The movie certainly highlighted the total ridiculousness of this story, that I managed to push aside and ignore whilst reading the book, seeing as it did nothing to justify it’s over the top plot. It did nothing to explain Christian’s unlikely fortune at such a young age, or his realistically unacceptable control issues. It didn’t attempt any hint at character development and it didn’t even try to make sense of Ana’s decision to submit to Christian’s every unreasonable whim. It did, however, do a great job of making me feel foolish for believing in this story in the first place and for falling in love with Book Christian. And nobody wants a movie to make them feel stupid. I know that when my other half sees this film he’s going to say ‘Seriously? That is the story you love so much?’ and to be honest, I don’t think I’ll be able to defend it. Yes, Christian is unrealistically and seemingly undeservedly rich. Yes, he is embarrassingly controlling, stalkerish and interfering. No, that is not my idea of an ideal man. What was I thinking?? Well, I was thinking that the book made the effort to justify all of this and didn’t make me feel like a total idiot for falling for this bossy, arrogant tosser! You’d be forgiven for almost feeling that the movie is secretly mocking us easily wooed, fluffy, gullible, romance junkies.

I felt that the only areas of this movie that had had any emotion injected into them were the sex scenes. But the rest just seemed like a robotic, step-by-step walk-through of the plot, void of the overwhelming feeling and passion that consumed me when I read the book.

However, obviously I will go and see the next two films. Obviously! 😉

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10 Responses to My Fifty Shades of Grey Movie Review

  1. G. Whitman says:

    I think they toned down Christian’s anger and thus seeing the reason he is the way he is. The next two books then let’s you see how he and Ana both change and evolve in their relationship.

  2. Denice says:

    I was disappointed that some of the locations were not grand enough. They were not in a suite at the Heathman. I thought the Red Room should have been bigger as should have Christain’s bedroom.. I, also, didn’t like some of the camera angles. There was a shot of Ana in a bathtub with Christain behind her that made him look small and petite. Another was a shot of Kate that made her face look really wide. I was okay with Jamie and loved Dakota. Overall I did like it and will see the following movies

  3. kat says:

    You know, I completely understand your review. I have been brooding about my thoughts about the movie ALL weekend. He kinda reminded me of Kristen Stewart in Twilight…you know annoying and flat, but in the book she was actually like that. Jamie was the same to me. Most of the girls were disappointed in Jamie. I kinda blame the screen writers. They made him so serious and broody (I know he is)….they took away the playful email banter that I think is telling of his funny side as a character. And what killed me…the ending. WHY? Why didn’t she have to yell Stop! That never happened. She left more angry than resigned. Nice digestion of the whole thing though!

  4. Shirley Wilkinson says:

    Although I have all three of the FSoG books, I loved the story too much to go see the movie. I have also listened to the Trilogy on CD format. Through the last few months, I have seen numerous trailers and teasers of FSoG the movie. In all those trailers, the lack of emotion from Jamie was quite apparent. I had said that the director should have shouted; “Once more with feeling, Jamie.” In every review, I have seen that Dakota carried the movie. And, from the little I have seen, I agree.
    In the books, Christian is taller than Ana. He works out every day. And runs with Taylor alongside.
    The movie Christian appeared to be a little taller, but not much. And, let’s face it he didn’t looked like he had hit the gym in years.
    I did read a review from the Telegraph. It was quite positive.. He did say that the FSoG people wanted a very special Red Room. They had a design team design every piece that went in the room. Then the designs were sent to the UK and made from the very finest, brown leather. I mention this, only because I wondered if the moviegoers noticed the brown leather?
    He also said that it was known, that Jamie and Dakota couldn’t stand the sight of each other. I wonder if that affected Jamie’s performance as Christian?
    What has really bothered me withe release of this movie, is the amount of FSoG haters out there who are saying that these books encourage rape, and violence against women! I have to wonder if they have actually read the first book. Let alone 2&3?
    Do you think they might change, Christian for the next book?
    When all is said and done. We know that FSoG is still a best selling trilogy. And the movie took in a record breaking amount in its first weekend.
    Thanks for your review, Sophie .

  5. LWolf says:

    Awesome review. I haven’t seen the movie yet (going tomorrow!) but I totally see where you’re coming from.

  6. Stupid says:

    If I was going to write review it would be just like this one. I can totally hear my husband telling me the exact same thing Really … Explain to me why you love these books ??? I felt cheated at the end of the movie … Why Why did they change it ???? I wanted to feel the heartbreak because I sure did when I first read the book but I didn’t watching the movie. I was like huh ?? That was not how it ended ??? Where did this Ana come from ????

  7. Rachel says:

    I agree 100% Dakota made the movie for me. There was multiple times when I head Jamie’s accent come through. Awesome review!

  8. KDickerson says:

    Thank you for your holistic and insightful review. I was concerned about the dialogue after listening to the books in audio format. There are great lines that I can recall very easily when I think of my favorite scenes and there are corny, sophomoric lines that needed to be excised or rewritten. As usual your humor and tact are appreciated and I remain confident in your reviews.
    I am so glad Dakota brought Ana to life for us who found her to be too contrary to the smart but innocent women we know in love in real life. Maybe the next movie will be better. I will save this movie for DVD. In the meantime, I will continue to picture Charlie Hunnam as my Christian Grey.

  9. Lucy says:

    Very justified points raised here.
    I actually came out of the theatre quietly impressed, but I haven’t read the book in over 12months and you just reminded me of my original feelings towards CG in the very beginning.
    Yes he was mercurial, he was up and down, some of his feelings towards Ana you could see he struggled to convey, so they came across as awkward. Where in this film it was all smoothed over. He came across as a regular dude, with a bad childhood but overall just a bossy dude with a bdsm fetish. That wasn’t Christian, he had the power the intimidation to pick anyone he so chose, hence his previous15 subs, they should have portrayed how they were all meticulously chosen.
    The insecurities Ana had in the book too, I felt when I read the book she was a real young girl even though she was at college, she was sheltered naive and virginal which you knew totally was believable and Christian prayed on this. Where in the film, he was shocked to find out that she was still a virgin and you could believe that, as she seemed more mature and worldy wise.

  10. CL Scott says:

    You nailed it! I felt the EXACT same way when I left the theater. I just avoided everyone afterward so I wouldn’t have to answer the, “How did it fare against the books?” questions. Boo.

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