Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Fifty Shades of Gray

Fifty Shades of Gray
Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eloise Mumford, Luke Grimes, Marcia Gay Harden

Rated: R for strong sexual content including dialogue, some unusual behavior and graphic nudity, and for language.
Reviewed by: Frank  
Release date: February 13, 2014 Released by: Focus Features

Probably the most anticipated film of the year, Fifty Shades of Grey comes to the screen following a most successful book. The book was considered romantic or the story of a young woman, Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) who was sexually used and intimated by powerful Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan).
The film moves the story toward romance by opening the week of Valentine Day.  But the heart of Fifty Shades dwells on the shallow empty personality of Christian Gray.  He appears to need little sleep and uses that and  his emptiness of sprit to breed success in business.  He is the owner of a Trump like tower in Seattle and his totally loyal staffers, from his driver to the stately blonds who manage his office schedules.
Director, Sam Taylor Johnson carefully manages the sex to keep the level just enough for an R rating, a little more exposure would have faced an NC-17 rating, which is death at the box office.
The interesting opening dwells on Anastasia's insecure somewhat clumsy character which establishes a gentle atmosphere during the first segments as opposed to later scenes.  But director Taylor Johnson quickly has two nude actors performing sex and sex like activities controlled by Christian. In fact much of the film is filled with actions that he persuades Anastasia she wants to play out, even when she is not sure about what is happening.  His non disclosure contract lists a series of bondage style sexual activities he expects her to perform.  Aside from the intimate scenes the couple fly in a glider and a helicopter, ride in limos and explore his secret sex chamber where he uses rope, cable ties and duct tape which he purchased at the hardware store where Anastasia works part time.
He is also astute enough to notice little signs, like Anastasia biting her lip as an indicator she is interested. Other characters like Christian's mom (Academy Award winner Marsha Gay Harden ) have little to add to the script.
This is a film about Anastasia learning various aspects of sexual activity and Christian plying his will on her.  Is it sexual abuse ?  That question is answered when Anastasia decides to stay or go. 

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Fifty Shades of Gray  B-      C   C+               C   C+ 

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