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Film Review: Fifty Shades Is More Sadistic Than Sexy

Film Review: Fifty Shades of Grey Is More Sadistic Than Sexy

Given the hype and anticipation surrounding the release of the Fifty Shades of Grey film, I was surprised to find myself in a near-empty cinema screen on the date of its release. This is particularly perplexing given that according to the ticket-selling site Fandango, Fifty Shades of Grey is the fastest selling R-rated title in the site’s history. Perhaps we’re a little more prudish here in Britain than audiences in the States. It’s also rather embarrassing on the part of British cinemas given that most of them had between seven and fifteen screenings of the film scheduled per day in the opening weekend. #awks


Fifty Shades of Grey follows the relationship between Christian Grey, a young and sexy eligible bachelor, and Anastasia Steele, a shy and rather plain girl. They are instantly attracted to each other, however Mr Grey has a darker side, one that he’d like Ana to be a part of if she’d only sign his contract. (Yes, a sex contract). As the man himself says, Grey’s “tastes are singular”. Translation: he’s massive control freak who is really into BDSM so when the Anastasia, innocent and virginal, stumbles into his office one day, he can’t help but try to get into her into his Red Room of pleasure (or is it pain?)

This film is full of cliché after cliché and I honestly could not believe how predictable some lines were. I laughed out loud on several occasions because I was utterly astounded by the shoddy script. It’s difficult to say whose fault this is, however, as the dialogue in the book is much the same. The film is much more creative than its paperback counterpart but the dialogue is still laughable.


Dakota Johnson plays the shy and innocent Anastasia Steele but I don’t think I’ve ever been more irritated by the protagonist of a film in my life. That said, the Anastasia Steele from the books is similarly irritating, so perhaps Johnson actually deserves a round of applause for being able to translate that irritability onto the big screen. Her co-star, Jamie Dornan, most definitely fits the bill physically for the role of Christian Grey. However, no matter how devastatingly  mysterious and handsome he is, there was just no way that Dornan could make the dialogue sexy, rather than absurd.
One of the biggest issues this film has had to face is how to take E.L. James’ erotic novel and put it on the screen in a way that stays true to the novel, without being too pornographic. Unsurpsingly, the producers failed miserably. There’s not enough sex to excite fans of the books but there’s too much nudity for the average cinema-goer. This film is advertised as having a whole twenty minutes of on-screen sex in it, but I have to say that thinking back, I can’t really remember there being that all that much of it. What I do remember, however, is that the sex scenes were incredibly repetitive and escalated quite rapidly away from the realms of a little BDSM to borderline torture. Not sexy. What’s worse is that Anastasia questions Mr Grey’s twisted nature on several occasions but still does not cut ties with him. We’re presented with a story about a woman who knows that her ‘boyfriend’, if we can call him that, is deeply troubled and likely to hurt her and yet she does nothing and continues to obey him. No wonder Cuntry Living has gone crazy.
There was one moment where I definitely saw way too much of the general pubic region of both protagonists but (thankfully) these moments were fleeting. There is a fair bit of nudity in this film, which is to be expected, however the ratio of female to male nudity is incredibly unbalanced. There’s just so much boob. Dornan is topless in many scenes but he’s got nothing on Johnson who probably spends more of the film completely naked than she does clothed so it’s not surprising that feminist viewers are outraged.
Whilst the sex scenes leave something to be desired, what is incredibly sexy is the soundtrack. Most aspects of this film fail to live up to expectations, but the soundtrack most certainly does not. Featuring songs from Ellie Goulding, The Weekend, Sia, The Rolling Stones, and, of course, Beyoncé it’s not altogether surprising that the soundtrack has received generally favourable reviews from critics.
To conclude, this a substandard film that breaks the bounds of what is acceptable a few too many times meaning Fifty Shades is more sadistic than sexy. The book did not strike me to be quite as sadistic or anti-feminist as the film is, but when blown up on the big screen, Christian Grey comes across, not as a sexy bachelor, but as a twisted man who derives pleasure from another’s pain. That said, the film is probably still better than the book, but that’s not saying much. Let’s face it, who wouldn’t rather watch two attractive actors get hot and heavy on screen than read E.L. James’ pathetic attempt at erotica in a book?
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*This review was first published on The Oxford Student

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  1. Angela Kate Webster
    15th February 2015 / 7:20 PM

    I was thinking earlier that it's funny how much hype this film gets, but I have never met a single person who liked the books. It must be as you said, bigger in the States.
    Great post. The mental image of you sitting in the cinema laughing out loud at the film made me laugh out loud.

    • Laura Hartley
      13th April 2015 / 12:12 AM

      It is so odd to find something so popular and yet so disliked. I guess crap like this is a lot of people's guilty pleasures and they won't admit that they enjoy it because they know that at the end of the day it's soo bad.

  2. Paulina Zimnoch
    19th February 2015 / 1:12 PM

    Not going to lie. Your review is making me want to see the movie even more. I read the books as I was curious about all the fuss. But I am mature enough to understand how terrible the books are and not surprisingly the film too. I am sorry you had to endure this painful procedure of watching this film but for what it's worth you were able to create a really amusing and fun review for the movie!

    • Laura Hartley
      13th April 2015 / 12:12 AM

      I'd definitely recommend watching it just because I feel like it's something that everyone needs to see – even if it's just to appreciate how bad it is!

  3. Melanie Edjourian
    26th January 2016 / 1:19 PM

    I haven’t read the books and to be honest I had the film on whilst cooking and it didn’t really seem good enough to get my attention for particularly long. I think it’s been overhyped.

  4. 26th January 2016 / 4:26 PM

    I hear you, it is one of the worst books I have ever read and as for the film I saw the trailer and that was enough to put me off even attempting to watch it. It was as you said completely laughable.

  5. Hungry_Healthy_Happy
    26th January 2016 / 5:00 PM

    I am glad I saw the film. But I totally agree that it is over hyped. I wonder how well the second one will do.

  6. Emma White
    26th January 2016 / 5:30 PM

    I loved the books yet was very disappointed with the film

  7. 26th January 2016 / 7:16 PM

    I love this review! I haven’t read the books or seen the film, but I do love reading peoples reactions to both. 50SOG has been the oddest phenomenon! x

  8. 27th January 2016 / 12:12 AM

    Great review. I couldn’t go past the book sample on my kindle and the movie was terrible.

  9. 27th January 2016 / 11:40 AM

    I’ve never read the book and the film didn’t appeal, but you’re right the soundtrack is amazing

  10. Bex Smith
    27th January 2016 / 9:35 PM

    I have heard a lot about the film being quite bad..I have it on DVD as my partner picked it up cheaply for my birthday so will have to give it a watch myself!

  11. The Nice Nest
    27th January 2016 / 10:34 PM

    I had the book on Kindle and didn’t finish as I found it repetitive and boring so it put me off watching the film.

  12. Kacie Morgan
    28th January 2016 / 8:52 AM

    I can’t believe I still haven’t read this book – I so need to do it!

  13. bericebaby
    28th January 2016 / 2:33 PM

    I 100% agree with you – I waited so long for this film (I didn’t read the books). I was so disapointed and the cast was rubbish as well 🙁 … Great review hun x

  14. Beautyqueenuk
    28th January 2016 / 3:24 PM

    I liked the film though I did prefer the books due to the detail x

  15. 28th January 2016 / 9:43 PM

    i totally agree with all of this review! The dialogue was straight out of the book and shoddy it was! The soundtrack was seriously sexy though!

  16. Elizabeth
    29th January 2016 / 7:10 AM

    I’ve not watched this film, and I am one of the very few who haven’t read the book. Having experienced domestic abuse it’s just not something I’d like to fill my mind space with!

  17. Ickle Pickle
    30th January 2016 / 8:07 PM

    I haven’t read the books or seen the film. I was pregnant when the first book came out – so it was the last thing on my mind! The film doesn’t sound great to be honest. Kaz x

  18. Deanna
    31st January 2016 / 12:03 AM

    Oh my gosh I feel the same way, I laughed my way through this film because of the pure cringe. Worst part- when they were at his dinner table discussing the terms of the contract and how much *ahem* fisting… was allowed. It was so bad. A lady at work said I remember her of Ana (she loves the film) and i was mortified! she’s so dull -_-

  19. 31st January 2016 / 3:36 PM

    I don’t think I will ever see this film, totally NOT my kind of thing ahah! I’ve heard some pretty bad reviews too

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