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Fifty Shades of Grey – Movie Review

Full disclosure: I have not read the book, “Fifty Shades of Grey.” I can only judge the movie by what’s on the screen. Fifty Shades of Grey is the dysfunctional love story between Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). As mentioned before, it’s based on the book of the same name by E.L. James.

Release Date: February 13, 2015
Rated R
Writer: Kelly Marcel
Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Marcia Gay Harden

The movie is controversial, to say the least. It’s the Beauty and the Beast story with themes of sexual bondage/discipline, dominance/submission and Sadism/Masochism. Anastasia Steele is a quiet young woman, who is helping her roommate with an assignment by interviewing a young corporate CEO, Christian Grey.

Almost immediately, the two become infatuated with one another, and a relationship is formed. But this relationship is complicated. Born the son of a prostitute, Christian can only feel, when engaged in acts of sexual dominance. Before any courting begins with Anastasia, Christian presents her with a contract–a standard dominant submissive contract. Christian asks Anastasia to read, ask questions and sign the contract, so their relationship can move forward. If Anastasia chooses to sign the contract, she will be given a new life thanks to Grey’s riches. Maybe she can change him too.

It’s clear that Anastasia has questions, and the movie is about whether she will sign the contract or not. Anastasia clearly loves Christian, but would she be willing to submit herself to this relationship. Christian, on the other hand, has convinced himself that he can never truly love another person and the only way to have an ongoing relationship is through this contract. This is the similarities with Beauty and the Beast.

Then there is our introduction to the world of the dominant and the submissive. Right away, we learn the emotional state of people who submit themselves to this sexual lifestyle. For Christian, though, Jamie Dornan plays him as conflicted. Christian can only experience feelings and emotions through a dominant/submissive relationship. He’s like Dexter, but instead of murdering the target, Christian must use sexual torture instead. Like Dexter, there are rules to his violence, such as safe words and he believe that his partner is in it for the pain and not for love.

The movie follows Anastasia as she’s slowly introduced to this lifestyle in Christian’s playroom. It is here that the movie becomes the sexual thriller than men have been waiting for. There is a lot of nudity of Dakota Johnson in Fifty Shades of Grey. In case you were wondering, a very hard R rating. Nothing about it comes close to an NC-17.

The drama is played out in a very harlequin romance way. Lots of talking about love and how each other expresses it. Like a good beast, Christian is shown at times melting and being a good boyfriend. Anastasia revels in her first sexual experience and at moments thinks that what is between Christian and herself is real love.

Fifty Shades of Grey is what I imagine is a tame version of what happens in the original E.L. James novel. Women may be disappointed by this. For men, Fifty Shades is like porn; you’ll tolerate sitting through the plot just to get to the good stuff.