Fifty Shades of Grey: Think kink

by Mark Burger

He is “the most eligible billionaire bachelor in the world.” She’s a naïve, sexually innocent college student with a 4.0 GPA. He is Christian Grey, she is Anastasia Steele and, of course, this is Fifty Shades of Grey, the eagerly awaited screen adaptation of E.L. James’ best-selling novel, the first in a heavy-breathing trio.

Jamie Dornan plays Christian and Dakota Johnson (daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith) plays Anastasia, and under the lugubrious direction of Sam Taylor-Johnson, this is a shallow and uninteresting tale of sexual obsession, replete with whips, chains, riding crops and blindfolds, but lacking in conviction on the part of the actors or the filmmakers. Box-office success is guaranteed due to the popularity of the novels and good old-fashioned studio hype, but aside from a few humorous moments, some intentional, others otherwise, Fifty Shades of Grey is “Fifty Shades of Dull.”

There are those observers who have protested the portrayal of women and sexuality, but that’s ascribing far more weight to the film and the novel than either warrant. For her graduation, Christian buys Anastasia a new car and then spanks her. This is not worthy of protest but of laughter. Fifty Shades of Grey is far too shallow to rate more than passing interest “¦ or disinterest, as the case may be.

Dornan and Johnson both look good with their clothes off, but their performances are another matter entirely. Aside from a few subsidiary characters, including Christian and Anastasia’s respective mothers – played by Marcia Gay Harden and Jennifer Ehle in insignificant appearances “” they are the only two characters who occupy the screen for the majority of the film’s running time, and they’re simply not appealing. What makes them tick? It’s never made clear.

There’s no sense of danger to the Christian Grey character or even any surprise.

“This is who I am,” he tells Anastasia “” and he pretty much stays the same way throughout the entire film. He offers a brief explanation that, before being adopted by the Greys, he experienced some vague trauma living with his biological mother, who was a crack whore. Such explanation is likely an insult to crack whores everywhere more than a coherent explanation for the character’s behavior.

As for Anastasia, she eventually gets fed up with the idea that she will be the Submissive to Christian, the Dominant “” and that’s that. There may be some (very) slight moral bent to the story, that she’s an innocent who is corrupted but then redeemed “¦ after having had her fling, of course. That’s called having your cake and eating it, too.