50 Shades of Grey – 50 Shades of Awful

To say I went into 50 Shades of Grey with low expectations is under-selling it. I couldn’t get through the truly terrible trilogy of books and the only reason to buy the ticket was the male lead.

I’m a massive Jamie Dornan fan, ever since his Once Upon A Time days (RIP Sheriff Graham!)  I follow him on Twitter, buy the DVDs and literally have the t-shirt, so the prospect of cinema-sized Dornan was too good to pass up.

In The Fall, Dornan gives a subtle, nuanced and mesmerising performance as a serial killer, proving he can hold his own against small screen heavyweights such as Gillian Anderson and John Lynch.

In 50 Shades he gives a laughably bad performance as the preposterously handsome but severely damaged Christian Grey, with an accent incorporating 50 Shades of Irish and very little American, a stilted delivery and a bored manner. It’s telling that his best scenes are when he talks about self-loathing and his distain for the material and the franchise which he has handcuffed himself to is allowed to shine through.

And he’s not alone. I’ve never seen Dakota Johnson in anything else so, unlike Dornan, I have no idea whether she can in fact act, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

From the endless quivering and lip-biting to her awkward delivery of the admittedly dreadful dialogue, Johnson is truly talented at making the smallest gesture seem staged and unnatural.

Myself and my friend Kay, also there for Dornan and nothing else, couldn’t decide what was worse, his accent or her shoes! and when we giggled at the unintentional comedy we were far from alone.

Far more care and attention is given to shooting the sex scenes than any with dialogue, but you still expect Christian to kill Ana at any minute (the film would have been better for it) and the more anyone talks, the more you remember the lines from the book. At least Ana never mentions her ‘inner goddess’ – thank heavens and script supervisors for small mercies.

Nobody comes out of this well.

Rumour has it E.L. James was an overbearing presence on set, and her mark is all over it. Perhaps it might have been possible to salvage something from the film if the author of the derivative source text wasn’t battling with the director and calling the shots, but it seems unlikely.

The lavish sets are impressive in an 80s Dallas sort of way and the eclectic soundtrack actually works quite well. But the supporting cast is all wrong, Kate and José look at least ten years older than they should and everyone else looks vaguely embarrassed to be there – not that you can blame them.

I’ve seen some very bad movies in my time, and enjoyed most of them in a perverse sort of way but 50 Shades of Grey makes Pearl Harbour look like Gone With The Wind. When you’re not laughing it’s painful to watch, and not in a way that Mr Grey would enjoy.

Sam Taylor-Johnson hasn’t signed on to direct the next two films in what could be a career-ending move for all concerned but it’s far too late for Dornan or Johnson to escape.

1 and a half stars – 1 for Jamie Dornan in most of his physical glory, half for the laughs.





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