50 Shades of Grey is a poor film. While its impacts on society are still up for debate, its quality lies somewhere between self-flagellation and shoving a barbed dildo up my arse.
Both main characters’ portrayals of their roles are satisfactory insofar as they perform their written material to its potential. The problem is that the written material is full of clunky exposition, one-dimensional character complexity and dialogue that could only be interesting if it were delivered by a dog in a maid outfit.
On the other hand, the settings are pretty good. They certainly got their colour scheme down pat (grey, shockingly) – with a red ‘playroom’ being the notable exception (coz red equals sex). I wanted to be nice for a few more lines, but I couldn’t think of anything else.
The main issue with the film is that it lacks any kind of complexity. It seems like the creative intent started with “Let’s have an emotionally abusive relationship” – and then just stopped. All of the creative choices are bland and obvious: why is he into BDSM? He was mistreated as a child. How do we make her seem vulnerable? Make her indecisive… and a virgin.
Aside from what to my (albeit not at all that knowledgeable) eyes seems some fairly low-key BDSM, the film is so plain that I could have just eaten a bag of flour for 125 minutes instead. You can guess how it will go after 20 minutes in, even with only the most bare-bones prior knowledge: they have a relationship; Mr. Grey is distant for whatever reason; it gets weird for a while; and then it gets too weird and she leaves. The side plots could be generously described as unnecessary, and the only reason they don’t detract from the film is because there is so little main plot to degrade.
As to claims that this glorifies abusive relationships or disempowers women, I would refute the former and dismiss the latter as true but unimportant. Mr Grey is so vanilla that he could only be interesting if he were made into a scented candle. His character is unlikeable, unrelatable and utterly uninteresting, and he is developed only as broadly as is required to fulfil his role in the story.
Admittedly, while the film may disempower the woman in its storyline to an extent, there are some important qualifications to this. Mr Grey always actively seeks Anastasia’s consent, and she is able to keep him at bay without having to repel him physically. She is manipulated because he sets her up to be vulnerable, but the audience is made to sympathise with her struggle. Ultimately, the problem is that any social message that this film seems to convey is less a product of concern (or lack thereof) for women, and more a byproduct of poor writing.
1/5 – At best, this should be called Two Shades of Grey.