Synopsis: A sexually inexperienced college senior and a handsome billionaire are drawn together. But one of his most well kept secrets threatens to ruin their relationship before it even gets started.
I may be in the minority of persons worldwide but I have never read the “Fifty Shades” series of books by EL James, so this review will be through fresh eyes; eyes that had a general idea of what the plot of the movie was about, but had no idea how it was going to develop. Truth is, I don’t think it really did. This movie was disappointing in so many areas. In fact, I would even say that the movie was a bit boring.
First, my biggest issue was that there was no form of development of a plot or the characters. Girl meets boy. Boy reveals to girl he’s a bit of a sadist. Girl whines about it occasionally but goes along for the ride until she realizes it’s not for her. The End. Maybe those who have read the novels and are deeply invested in the two characters would not be as ‘bleh’ about the whole relationship, but there was nothing in the movie that made me emotionally attached to either of these characters as individuals, much less emotionally attached enough to root for them as a couple. We barely knew anything about them, as only snippets here and there were offered and that was disappointing. It was almost as if the movie producers were banking on the fact that the audience knows these characters from the novels and that is a mistake that I believe many movies based on books make – that they can be sloppy with basic things such as plot and character development because the movie is based on a book. So, I felt as though it was a movie just for those who read the book. Although, persons who read the book were also quite disappointed with the movie as well, so maybe not.
My next issue is the character of Anastasia. She’s a virgin. She’s inexperienced with men and relationships but that was not the issue. I believe that she didn’t accept Christian for who he was, and got upset when he didn’t change. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way condoning his sadism or contractual demands for their arrangement (more on that later) but one thing you cannot say about him is that he was deceptive. He was always upfront about who he was and what she should and should not expect from him. I felt throughout the movie she was a bit in over her head. She fell in love with him, the sex was obviously great for her (judging by the fact she was willing to indulge in his sexual fetishes) but she kept expecting something from him that he said upfront he wasn’t going to give. I must admit, she was pretty bold in the early stages of the relationship, as she got Christian to negotiate the terms of the contract (something he never did before) and she didn’t give in right away (actually she’s yet to sign the contract). At the end of the movie, they ultimately broke up when she felt that his “punishment” of her for the sake of pleasure was too excessive for her to handle, as was the fact that he wasn’t opening up to her about why he was the way he was. I get that to an extent, but he did warn her that he’s closed off, so she knew that going into their agreement. In fact, she knew upfront from the beginning what she was getting into, and to me, and I don’t think she had any right complaining when Christian was not changing. This is a mistake a lot of women make. They go into relationships thinking they can change someone and get upset when they don’t. If someone cares about you and respects you enough to be upfront about who they are, you shouldn’t complain when they turn out exactly as they said they would.
Now to Christian. What a complicated character. I won’t go into length about his sexual preferences, because one thing the movie producers did was to give us some background about how he became exposed to this type of sexual behavior. He was abused as a 15 year old by his mother’s friend, who introduced him to the concept of dominant and submissive, a concept to which he has added his own ‘style’. Also, it was hinted throughout the move that there is more to his character, and why he prefers this sadism to give pleasure to his partner. However, my issue is this: does sadism mean that you have to be so controlling and possessive of our partner? Some of his terms were over the top including telling her which doctor she needed to go to get birth control and the fact that she was ‘his’. That is borderline possessive. Additionally, his reaction when he found out Anastasia was going to visit her mother was not great either. It was almost as if Anastasia was his possession. I know this wasn’t the case because he obviously loves her (being willing to negotiate the contract, actually sleeping in the same bed with her one night shows this) but at times, he treated her like property.
Also, for a movie series that is supposed to be sexually steamy, can we really say the lead actors had any chemistry or passion? Yes, we hear the usual grunts or moans symbolizing that the two are apparently sexually satisfying each other but where’s the chemistry? Where’s the passion. Is this a casting issue or a writing issue?
This whole relationship felt like a business arrangement. Other than a few meaningful glances and one or two meaningful conversations, what cause do we have to root for this couple? For me, nothing. I’m a typical chick flick gal. I love watching people fall in love and overcome that predictable conflict that arises, but I felt nothing when they broke up. All I can hope is that the next two movie installments in this series are much better than this one. I hope to learn more about Anastasia and Christian as people too, especially Christian as he seems to have layers and layers to uncover. But given how poor this movie was, should I even bother to watch the sequels? Overall Movie Rating 3⁄10
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