Noah Sunshine || Senior Staff Writer
Fifty Shades of Grey made almost $90 million domestically over the four-day holiday period, betraying everyone’s expectations for a flop in all demographics except middle-aged women. Coinciding its release with Valentine’s Day was an inspired move, conflating a holiday about relationships with a movie about a perverse and unhealthy one, as if to make adventurous couples going to see it feel a bit better about what goes on in their own bedrooms. Between the middle-aged women, “happy” couples, and all the people going with the expectation it would be hilariously bad, no wonder they had a stellar opening night.
Movies about books are already tricky, so making a movie about a book that’s actually based on fanfiction the author originally published for free on the internet means director Sam Taylor-Johnson had to navigate a singular piece of “literature” in hopes to translate it to the silver screen. Christian Grey and his toy girl Anastasia Steele (no, you’re right, those names would be right at home in a porno) act out a sordid love affair in front of the audience after mutually realizing that they’re both too beautiful and brilliant to be with anyone else. In spite of their supposed brilliance, their dialogue still sounds as if it were ripped from the low-traffic blogs of thirty-something fanfiction writers, lacking both subtlety and variety when trying to refer to sexual organs or activities without stepping into adult filmmaking. And, at the end of it all, it’s still pretty vanilla.
This movie is incredibly easy to spoil — not because there is an M. Night Shyamalan-sized twist but because the story is linear, predictable, and flat from open to close. But that’s okay! The movie is a piece of eye candy, with extra-saturated scenes of intimacy between lead actors of above-average attractiveness. I appreciated moments where cameras cut to grayscale filters, though undoubtedly not as subtle as director Taylor-Johnson anticipated. Her only other film of any sizable profile was Nowhere Boy, a John Lennon biopic, that was never destined to be the stylized blockbuster Fifty Shades was.
Even fans of the series of novels, I would wager, consider this a poor movie and even a poor adaptation. But the point of the film was not to redefine literature or film, but to give audiences more substance to a guilty pleasure, a task which this movie greatly satisfies. It’s destined to fall to obscurity when it leaves theatres, being more of a “rent” than “buy” option for those looking to have a semi-romantic movie night with their significant other or a bad movie marathon with some friends, followed closely by The Room and Troll 2. It will most likely still spawn sequels, as evidenced by its opening night success, sextupling its budget in worldwide revenue, because it will always be the cheap movie to make that’s fun to go see. Expect to see Fifty Shades Darker next Valentine’s Day, and maybe a few other soft-core entries to the holiday festivities next year that will try to steal the novelty limelight. Make it a tradition, and have a little fun with a movie you love to hate.
I give it the D.
Noah Sunshine is a senior staff writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.