I will be the first to admit two things when it comes to this 1. I didn’t read the book before seeing the film (well I tried a couple of years ago to no success) 2. I actually quite enjoyed the film that it made me read the book to compare.
What Sam Taylor-Johnson has done is created a film that presents the story in a coherent way, without disrupting the essential points of the book.
But of course, the dialogue is still cringe-worthy in places and judging by some of the facial expressions on some of the cast’s faces it is clear to see that they feel that way too. However, it is to the credit of Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson that they were able to perform some quite embarrassing scenes with professionalism.
There has been criticism that the film isn’t raunchy enough and that it didn’t really stick to the book (as far as I could tell there were only a couple scenes that were left out – but I have only read it once so I could be wrong). But for me personally I thought that it was all done as tastefully as possible – not an easy thing to achieve when it comes to this kind of topic.
But I particularly loved the way in which we see Anastasia develop as a character – from shy and timid to a confident woman having to handle a complicated character such as Christian Grey. Dakota Johnson is able to balance the innocence and lack of confidence in a way that doesn’t irritate the audience – without the references to her ‘inner goddess’ quite awkward to read in the book.
So what of Christian Grey? Dornan shows an ability to capture a character who isn’t sure of his feelings or how to let anyone (particularly women) into his life. As of yet I’m still not sure why his character feels the need to go down the road he did (even after reading all the books I’m still not fully clear). While there are times that you can sympathise with him (and his past), the last couple of scenes in the film undoes this (I had to skip this when watching the DVD as I can’t condone that kind of violence towards women – even if she did literally ask for it).
Of course, the other downside is that other characters in the film aren’t given a chance to develop (the other films might do that however) which means that although you are focused on Anastasia and Christian you aren’t given a chance to know the other people in their lives at all to add another layer to their characters.
The plot I still feel is weak – but that is not Sam Taylor-Johnson’s fault and she valiantly tries to add more depth and interest into the plot. In this regard it will be interesting to see a) how the next director deals with the next film and b) how E.L. James’s partner will write the plot for the screen…
Will I ever be a die-hard fifty shades fan? Probably not but for some reason it works better as an adaptation for the big screen as opposed to the book itself and certainly feels more sophisticated.