Rated R.  125 minutes.
Drama / Romance

English Literature major Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) is studying for finals at Washington State University Vancouver, just weeks away from graduation. As a favor to her friend and roommate Kate (Eloise Mumford), suffering from the flu, Anastasia steps in to interview the man giving this year’s commencement address, 27-year old billionaire businessman Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan.)

In a matter of a few minutes the quiet girl with little dating experience and still a virgin is swept up in his charisma. He’s handsome, intelligent and intimidating. She’s intrigued. So is he. She’s shy, intelligent and not afraid to challenge him on his answers. He wants her for his “playroom.” She wants him as a boyfriend. And their strange relationship of seduction and dominance begins.

I managed to tolerate only 143 pages of the book. My 21-year old daughter called it “mommy porn.” That’s not why I stopped reading. I found the writing horrible. I envisioned some 8th grade girl learning about BDSM on the internet, writing this story with a pornography site open on her computer and a thesaurus in her hand. The story just wasn’t believable to me. How could a bright, confident albeit quiet college woman, so easily fall into the trap of this control freak? But look who’s laughing. Author E.L. James’ life will never be the same. I know more women who’ve read the book than who haven’t. Over 100-million copies of the book have been sold.

The film was more believable to me. It removed the chatter in Anastasia’s head the booked revealed and instead let the pictures and minimal dialogue tell the story. Smart move! It was a better experience than the book for me. It is expected to gross at least $60-million in the opening weekend alone.

Dakota Johnson was amazing and believable – much more than the Ana in the book. Jamie Dornan was, well, gorgeous, but didn’t show the range of emotion Dakota did which was likely part character choice – Christian is controlling. I appreciated Dakota’s ability to turn Ana’s line for humor which added to her character’s intelligence, confidence and innocence. That and the film’s musical soundtrack, which is perfect by the way, were the best parts of this film to me. It didn’t take long to turn into a mama bear, fearful for this 21 year old’s decisions and heartbroken for the young man’s tragic past.

I was relieved to see that the film “50 Shades of Grey” was really less about erotic sex (it’s rated R after all) and more about a tragic story of grief, child abuse, and lost love. Not to be misleading, there are more than enough boob and butt shots to last a while, and plenty of sex scenes. Yet in the end, I just felt sad for the pain so many people have suffered at the hands of another hurt human being. A difficult cycle to end. I felt proud of Anastasia for challenging and saving herself. Every one makes mistakes but no woman needs a white knight. She needs a strong sense of self and a safe, loving place to be.

Do I think you should see it? Not if watching sex on the big screen bothers you and not if you plan to sit for two hours and laugh. It doesn’t  deserve THAT treatment and nor do the other people in the theatre . Don’t judge. If you liked the book, you should like the movie. (Know that several scenes are missing.)  If you tolerated the book, you may find the movie better than you thought it would be.  If you hated the book, don’t bother with the movie. After all, you know how it ends.

Arruga! – 2!
Fidget Factor – 1
Age Range – 17 and up
Overall Grade – C

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