Movie Review: Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2015 movie starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan

Synopsis: When her college roommate comes down with the flu, literature student Anastasia Steele fills in for her and interviews billionaire Christian Grey for their college paper. Ana finds him intimidating and is surprised when the billionaire makes it clear he is attracted to her. However, he has no interest in a romantic relationship and, instead, wants her to be his submissive. In order to remain with him, the reluctant Ana must decide whether to agree to his "contract" and be willing to become his sex slave.


My wife attempted to read the book this movie is based on not long after it first became a big hit. She only made it through five chapters before casting it aside and, because of that, when the movie came out, I figured I wouldn't ever have to watch it with her.

As it turns out, I was wrong. Even though she didn't express any interest in watching this movie at first, she became a little curious about it after seeing trailers for the soon-to-be released third installment and, when she watched it last night, I reluctantly decided to play the role of good husband and watch it with her.

Despite some serious doubts, I decided to give this film a fair chance when we started watching it. But, even though I watched this with a positive attitude and expectations that were lowered to the point it had every opportunity to surprise me, I have to say this film wound up being everything I thought it would be, and not in a good way.

To be fair, despite my best efforts, I probably did still have a little bit of bias against this film. And, this isn't because I'm a guy. It's because I am a dad of two daughters.

Let me explain. Even though I really don't like to think about it, I know my daughters will eventually date. And, as their father, the best I can hope for is they will find a man who will treat them with respect. In other words, after watching this movie, I sincerely hope they do not date someone like Christian Grey (Dornan).

Some people watch this movie and think it is romantic. Others watch it and think it is sexy. I watched the movie and was reminded of an after school special. Specifically, I couldn't help but think of those specials that focused on peer pressure. Only, instead of Ana (Johnson) being pressured into doing drugs or drinking alcohol, Grey was pressuring her into becoming a sex slave.

At least from what I saw in this movie (I can't speak for the book since I never read it), Christian Grey is the absolutely worst choice for a love interest ever. He's not sexy or romantic. He's creepy.

In fact, to paraphrase a popular Facebook meme, if he weren't rich and good looking, this would be a Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit episode. Sure, he buys her a car, takes her on a helicopter ride, etc. But, there are also plenty of times when he practically bullies her and gives her absolutely no space/time to think things over on her own. Heck, he even follows her to Georgia when she tries to escape him. That's not romantic. That's something an abusive ex-husband or ex-boyfriend would do.

Also not helping is, other than him being rich, there is nothing even remotely interesting about him. Again, maybe this is different in the book, but the movie version of Grey seemed to have almost no personality at times (the word sociopath comes to mind). That being said, the way he kept pushing Ana away and refused to let anyone get too close to him reminded me a bit of Bruce Wayne. The major difference, of course, was Bruce Wayne was trying to hide his superhero secret identity while Grey is a woman-abusing pervert.

I will say one positive thing about this movie, I did genuinely like Dakota Johnson's performance and was very impressed with her as an actress. However, I'm not sure how much of that is the result of me being surprised she was able to keep a straight face through some of the worst dialog I've ever heard in a film.

Final Opinion

To tell you the truth, I do think this movie had some unfulfilled potential. However, in order to be watchable, I think it would first have to switch genres and, instead of being sold as a romantic/sexy film, should have been made into an American Psycho-like thriller.

My Grade: D

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Updated: 02/02/2018, StevenHelmer
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frankbeswick on 02/15/2018

A worthwhile analysis. I have not read this book and never will, but I will say one pertinent thing. Years ago when I was a teacher I was privileged to undergo a training course in abuse given by a wise and intelligent psychologist, an expert on the subject. Her instruction was adamant and clear. Bondage [and domination, sex slavery] is a dangerous perversion. You must report it without delay if you even get a hint that it is happening to any pupil in your care. Enough said.

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