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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Feb 25, 2015

Review: 50 Shades Of Grey - Won't Show Grey's Anatomy

THE NOVEL by Erika Mitchell aka EL James was panned for being trashy, but it didn’t stop people from buying 100 million copies worldwide and making it a literary phenomenon. The movie is also lambasted, but this didn’t prevent the pre-sold audiences from making the film version of “Fifty Shades of Grey” the number one movie in the U.S. for several weeks. That only means it’s critic-proof. You can malign it all you want and people will still flock to it.

And why not? It’s the first mainstream novel about kinky sex/ sado-masochism that is made into a mainstream movie. So it’s but natural that everyone will be curious. Here in the Philippines, it’s not shown in SM Cinemas, not because it’s about SM (sado-masochism) but because it’s R-18 and they don’t show porn in SM. We saw it in Trinoma and yes, it’s true, all the scenes exposing the private part of the female lead are blackened to blot out her front. She’s the only one affected because the guy avoids showing Grey’s anatomy. But this is actually pointless as the uncut DVD version is now on the sidewalk and also downloadable in the internet.

The story is actually very flimsy. The shy and geeky Anastasia Steele, who majors in English Lit and likes biting her lower lip, is asked by a classmate to interview 27-year old billionaire Christian Grey for their campus paper. She immediately falls under his spell and she is surprised when he visits her in the hardware store where she works to buy rope, masking tape, etc., prompting her to tell him: “You’re the complete serial killer”.

Their courtship actually starts just like in standard rom-coms. When she calls him while she was in a bar, he senses she’s had too much drink and he suddenly appears beside her and even gets to hold her while she throws up. They go hang gliding together and they dance to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “Witchcraft”. He also takes her to Seattle on board his own helicopter. Is this really much different from any other rom-com you’ve seen before?

But then, he takes her to his private playroom where he has a wide array of toys for bondage, like handcuffs and chains for a different kind of lovemaking where he says he is the dominant and the girl is the submissive. Would she be willing to be the submissive? He prepares a contract where she specifies what she’s willing and not willing to to do (definite not anal and vaginal fisting), but before she can even sign it, he can no longer contain himself and devours her, exclaiming “To hell with paper work!” How is this for a movie that is shown as a Valentine’s Day presentation?
This kind of sado-masochistic relationship will work only if both parties voluntarily and gladly accept their respective roles as dominant and submissive. But if only one party is into it (in this case, Christian) and the other one is only looking for a more normal kind of romantic relationship (Anastasia), then it surely won’t work, as what happens in the movie.

Anastasia is played by Dakota Johnson, daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith. She perfectly nails the role of the innocent virgin who is introduced into a whole new world of kinky sex. She’s very beautiful and the camera just loves her. Christian is played by Jamie Dornan, an Irish actor who has played bit roles in “Social Network” and “Need for Speed” and been seen in such TV shows as “The Fall”, “Ben and Kate” and “Once Upon a Time” (which we saw but, honestly, he didn’t make an impression at all.) Truth to tell, there’s little chemistry between the leads. You don’t feel the heat being combustible even when they’re both already undressed. We think Charlie Hunnam (the original choice for Christian) would have been better than.

The movie is helmed by Brit Sam Taylor-Johnson. No, she’s not a man but a woman. She’s best known for her movie about a young John Lennon, “Nowhere Boy”, which starred her husband Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who has appeared in Hollywood films like “Kick-Ass 1 and 2” and “Godzilla”. In the end, you realize that for a movie that is meant to be controversial, it’s still actually quite tame in this day and age when porn is easily available on the net. All it did is show Jamie with an ice cube on his mouth sliding down the bare body of Dakota, then he gets to slap her butt with his hand and later with a whip, after which she chickened out and leaves him. They obviously don’t it want to be X-rated so they tone down the messiness of being hardcore to come up with fairly acceptable scenes of perverted sexuality making the film quite unsatisfying, “bitin”. Maybe they’re reserving it for the sequels since the material comes from a trilogy. With the first novel being a huge blockbuster, we have no doubt they will quickly film the next instalment soon.