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13th February 2015
50 Shades of Taupe
YOU ARE NOW READING : MR

Salman Rushdie said that the novel FIFTY SHADES OF GREY made TWILIGHT (by which it was inspired) look like WAR AND PEACE.

Perhaps the film is therefore an improvement on the book, because I found it marginally more watchable than TWIGLET - sorry, typo - TWILIGHT.  Perhaps that is because of the nudity. Both ultimately are tedious. I’m not the female audience they’re after, admittedly – and yet even I can see that there is an actually interesting story somewhere within 50 SHADES – about control, damage and power-play – but it’s been bound, gagged, trussed, blindfolded, handcuffed and had a rotten orange shoved into its gob by EL James (ironically, seeing as she came up with it), and now Hollywood.

What’s left on screen is a bemusing, bewildering and boring soft porn. There’s something quaint about the soft-lit sex in fact, in this porn-addled internet world. It reminded me of those 1990s sex thrillers that never really worked (e.g. BODY OF EVIDENCE, SLIVER). Never of the ones that did (e.g. BASIC INSTINCT).

The story is lame verging on surreal. Mainly because the characters – their back-stories literally laughable – are utterly two-dimensional, even in their birthday suits.

This is not helped by the fact that Jamie Dornan can’t really act. He doesn’t have much to work with, it’s true (compared to the brilliant THE FALL, in which he was very watchable). But he just looks self-conscious and silly most of the time here. Stilted. He is making an acting career out of very handsome men who have no emotions – because he is a very handsome man, who can’t portray emotions.

Dakota Johnson does well – she looks the pretty part and acts better than him. Although I did think her mum, Melanie Griffith, had a lot more charm playing a very similar role back in the day in WORKING GIRL. Though much better material, sure.

There are strange non-sensical moments. His mother drops in on Christian Grey just as he’s getting down with Anastasia Steel (“hey, Dynasty called, it wants its character names back!”)… Only the mum had no reason for coming over, other than apparently to interrupt them en flagrante, and so leaves immediately! This is very lazy storytelling.

Similarly, in the very first moment between our sadism-crossed lovers, when they meet, for some unknown reason, Anna takes an unprompted pratfall and collapses on the marble floor – but, again, for no apparent reason, other than we need to start things off with her in a heap at his feet.

I felt rather pervy going to this early screening with Mrs B. Many viewers will indeed perve over the riches and high-life opulence on screen, more than the sex.

Yet the film just is not that exciting in any department, I’m afraid. It’ll make a mint, sure. Sam Taylor-Johnson is a clever woman with a keen eye for what catches the eye. Kelly Marcel is a talented screenwriter. Seamus McGarvey is an amazing Director of Photography. The soundtrack is well-produced and will make everyone involved rich, in and of itself.

But, as that lovely old truism goes, you can’t polish a turd.

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Mrs
13th February 2015
50 Shades of Taupe
YOU ARE NOW READING : MRS
I am apparently, Mr B has just (slightly defiantly) informed me, the only person he has ever met who 1) read all of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, right to the end; and 2) didn’t find it morally reprehensible, misogynist, badly written, and boring.

I don’t know why or how this should be, but yes, I find myself conceding, it is true, I enjoyed the book. 
 
And mainly because – in my defence -  I desperately wanted to find out what would happen in the end:  all the kinky S&M/leather etc aside, would Mr Grey take down his boundaries and end up with Ms Steele (in the truly romantic sense of the word)?

I’m not sure quite where that leaves me re my peers (/rapidly diminishing sense of intellectual capability), but I can’t deny that I am a complete sucker for a well chiselled narrative arc (one that proverbially pins you down and instructs you to wait and see), and creative suspense. 

Which is a pity as the film, in contrast, contains neither. 

Yes it flaunts muscles and chains galore, and the perkiest female bottom I have seen in a long time (unsurprising, I suppose, as my own is the only recent comparison), but – looks aside – pretty much everything else is, well, a little flaccid. 

There’s not really any plot so to speak of, zero suspense (they have diluted the book enough so that no one really has to hold out for anything, satisfaction or other-wise); and – sorry Jamie Dornan – some terrible terrible acting. 

Not just bad, but buttock-clenchingly bad, aptly enough.  Let’s just say that Dornan's previous role as the psychopathic serial killer Paul Spectre in ‘The Fall’, ranks as Mark Rylancian in comparison.

That all said, it does – THANK GOD - manage to fulfil its main remit, which is, I suppose, to be a combination of titillating, and just credible enough to sate housewives up and down the country without too much embarrassment, but sadly, that is about it. 

Which is a shame, as I’m sure there could have been scope for something a little darker, cleverer, ‘sexier’ (in the Hollywood meaning of the word). 

Oh well, I say brightly to Mr B as we stagger out into the West London daylight, at least there’s still Fifty Shades 2 and 3 to look forward to.
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Mr
  • Subjects Film