Fifty Shades of Grey movie review

Nikki Parkinson Life 66 Comments

I’m not generally known for my choice of high literature when it comes to reading. My Dad – a former school teacher and head of English – told me many years ago that as long as I was reading something then that was better than nothing.

I may or may not have taken Dad on his word MY ENTIRE LIFE.

I am part of a highly intellectual book club but my not-so-secret reading habits involve books that would never make our list.

Way before said book club, I was downloading books to read on my iPad for our 2012 trip to the US.

Every woman and her dog was reading Fifty Shades of Grey and I love a bandwagon as much as the next person so jump on it I did.

And I read all three books. From Australia, to New York, to the West Coast and back home, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele kept me company.

Was it life-changing and mind-expanding literature? NO. Was it escapism? YES.

Did I labour through books two and three just because I wanted to see how their relationship panned out? YOU BET.

I was sucked right in.

I in no way endorse or approve of Mr Grey’s “singular” approach to relationships. Far from it, I abhor it.

But I don’t believe the story “glorifies” domestic violence. Just like if I read a book or see a movie that involves murder, I don’t believe that work of fiction is glorifying crime and death.

I’m the first to admit that I’m a romantic at heart. Strip away the violence, the whips and the ropes and that’s what kept me reading.

Never read the books? In a nutshell, Anastasia is a naive, young university student, who by chance meets a hot young, super successful and rich businessman.

She falls hard for him and he is very much taken with her. The thing is he doesn’t do the boyfriend-girlfriend thing. He creates legal contracts and sets up dominant-submissive relationships with the women he decides he wants in one compartment of his life.

By his own admission he is 50 shades of f*@#ked up thanks to an early childhood of neglect and abuse – and his teenage years taken from him by a family friend who seduced him and made him a submissive at the age of 15.

Anastasia hasn’t had the most stable of upbringings either. Her mum is married to her fourth husband. Her only rock is her step-dad – her mum’s second husband.

The premise and the plot is nothing new or groundbreaking (it was originally fan fiction that grew out of the Twilight novels … Edward and Bella anyone?), yet 100 million people have bought the books.

What that says to me is that people will read what they want – not want critics say they should read.

I predict the same for the movie.

Fifty Shades of Grey movie review

On Wednesday night I frocked up and met Mr SY at New Farm Cinemas in Brisbane for the Queensland premiere of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Mr SY was definitely in the minority at the screening – he was male AND he hadn’t read the books.

I asked him for his verdict …

She was pretty cute. I was wondering how he got so rich but was so messed up. It was frustrating because it was clearly a restrained version of what would happen (I think he’s talking about the bedroom/playroom scenes). I couldn’t believe she’d jumped in so quickly. It’s a typical trilogy movie. You’re left hanging at the end. There’s no closure. 

I could leave you there but – as someone who’s read the books – I’ll give my two cents’ worth.

I don’t have the same opinion as The Today Show’s Lisa Wilkinson has. There are movies you go to see because they are life-changing and thought-challenging and there are movies you go to see for a night out that doesn’t require a whole lot of thinking or analysis.

Because of the pop culture nature and cult following of 50 Shades of Grey, it’s receiving scrutiny of a level usually reserved for Academy-Award-nominated movies.

That to me is just plain crazy and just a whole lot of over-thinking.

I think the screenwriters did a good job taking a flawed text and translating it for the big screen given the parameters that they would have had to work with to create something less than an X-rated movie.

The characters were given a little more dimension, intelligence and humour than I felt they had in the book. I found Anastasia incredibly frustrating in the book – and yes there is still that frustration around her character in the movie – but the movie script gave us glimpse of a woman she could be given the chance.

The forty-something woman I am certainly wanted to shake her and make her say no and stand up for herself but the 20-something woman I once was – a woman who made her fair share of relationship mistakes – got it.

Dakota Johnson as Anastasia was a good casting. For people of my vintage, she’s Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson’s daughter and I saw more than a hint of Melanie’s ’80s Working Girl vulnerability in Dakota’s performance.

Jamie Dorman as Christian Grey very much fits the bill. He had a problem with keeping his shirt on though. Not that anyone in the cinema seemed perturbed by that in the slightest.

I think this is a movie that you will want to see if you read the books.

It’s a movie you should see with others who have read the books. Think girls’ night out rather than a date night movie.

That way you are all on the same page (pun very much intended) and can dissect every little bit over a wine afterwards.

Mr Grey Will See You Now - Fifty Shades of Grey movie review

So tell me, have you seen Fifty Shades of Grey as yet? Planning on going? Thoughts?

Comments 66

  1. I found Fifty Shades of Grey to be fascinating — and I don’t mean that in a coy, condescending way. That rare Hollywood movie that deals (somewhat) seriously with its characters’ sexual life, Fifty Shades stands alone among the studio blockbusters. (It’s also just about the only “event movie” based around a love story in recent times.)

  2. I really hoped that the movie would improve on the naffness of the book more than it did. Granted there was no mention of Anastasia’s “inner goddess” but every time I heard “holy cow”, “I’m going to **** you into next week” and “Laters babe” I cringed deeply. I actually found myself laughing at several points that I’m sure were supposed to be taken seriously.

    I also found it rather tame. For a story about sex, it was not that sexy. The book certainly did better in this department.

    Jamie Dornan can do no wrong in my book. I highly recommend watching “The Fall” where he stars as a serial killer opposite Gillian Anderson. It’s his best work. Very chilling and still very sexy.

    1. You are so right! Especially the “Laters baby” was terrible! So didn’t suit his character in the movie. Thanks for the tip – I’ll now start watching The Fall. Heard many good things about it but I didn#t realize Jamie Dornan was in it.

  3. I haven’t read the books or seen the movie. Reading the feedback has highlighted to me that in real life, people with the psychological issues that are depicted in this movie would be unlikely able to overcome them through the events in the books. Hence there are mixed reviews, firstly from people who understand that the storyline is unrealistic, but enjoy the (taboo) fantasy element of the books. Then there are others who are cautioning that the unrealistic storyline does not seem assist the less aware/vulnerable in differentiating between domestic violence and BDSM.

  4. I admit it…I too read the books and persevered to the end….actually enjoyed the movie more, great soundtrack, adapted to be risqué but not overly offensive. Saw it with a girlfriend and we both were pleasantly surprised as we weren’t expecting much. Will we see the next instalment…probably yes. Will it change my life in any way…..probably no 🙂

  5. The movie was disappointing. I thought the casting of Anastasia and her friend was good but Mr Grey, no way, he didn’t cut it. Also the movie didn’t capture his up bringing or their intensity in the beginning. I thought the play room was done well. Overall It did nothing for me.

  6. I have seen hundreds of movies over the years. Critics have never influenced me as to whether to see a movie or not. If I like the sound of the movie I will go and see it. This one, I don’t care for. I won’t bother but will not criticize anyone who wants to see it. To each their own, I say 🙂

  7. Thank you for a very balanced review! I haven’t read the books nor have I seen the movie, but I’ve been gobsmacked at the vitriolic reviews floating around. Obviously everyone is entitled to their opinion. I thought it was just about S&M, and to me Consenting Adults = None of My Business; but it seems to have hit a nerve with many others. Maybe it is domestic violence dressed up as erotica, I will never know because I will never see it.

  8. Thank you so much Nikki! I’m sick of hearing what a crap book and what a crap movie it is – it was never meant to be a classic!! You have hit the nail on the head, thank YOU!!

  9. Great review, thank Nikki. I agree “But I don’t believe the story “glorifies” domestic violence. Just like if I read a book or see a movie that involves murder, I don’t believe that work of fiction is glorifying crime and death.”, it’s a movie, nothing more, nothing less.

    Society needs to stop taking everything so seriously and enjoy things for what they are, after all it’s just a movie and if it’s not your cup of tea then simply don’t go and see it.

  10. I’m not going to get involved in a debate about this movie. But a movie I would recommend (and it started life as a book as well) is Still Alice. When I first read the book quite a few years ago I thought “wow, Lisa Genova (the author) has a good grip on all things dementia, memory and Alzheimers’s related”. I googled her and discovered she’s a neuroscientist. I work in a related field, and loved her book and loved the movie. It’s an easy read. But heartbreaking and so relevant. I’d head to the Still Alice queue at the movies. Then there’s the Steven Hawking’s one…so many better choices ladies.

    1. I love Lisa Genova’s books – Still Alice in particular. Really want to see the movie. I also read all of the Fifty Shades books and like Nikki, I kept going with books 2 and 3, purely to find out what happened – I even got to the stage where I skipped the sex scenes. Not sure if I want to see the movie or not…

    2. I totally agree with this. Still Alice is a fantastic book and although not quite as good as the book the movie is well worth seeing. I also enjoyed The Imitation Game recently, a very interesting story. I shall not be going to see 50 Shades.

    3. Yep totally agree, I read still Alice yonks ago and I was so excited when I found out it was being made into a movie. Thought the movie was a pretty good adaptation and had me blubbing from the start. I started to read Fifty Shades when all the hype was around but I just couldn’t get through it as I found myself so frustrated with Anna. Still undecided about going to see it but am already over the hype surrounding it!

  11. Dare I admit I found the books quite educational? I’ll be damned if I knew anything about half of the stuff they got up to. Has it made me want to be in that kind of relationship – Hell no!
    What I am though, is a hopeless romantic – so I smiled at the end of the third book. Will I watch the movie? Yes, of course. I won’t rush out this week, but I’ll get around to it. xx
    Ps. I love your take on this and Kimba’s comment was the icing on the cake!

  12. Lol, i just posted similar thoughts last night on my blog. I’m seeing the movie on the weekend and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it for what it is – 2 hours of escapism and a perve at a hot bod…

  13. Couldn’t agree more Nikki, I have also read the books and a hopeless romantic at heart, and really liked the books even though they not written well. I liked the movie, but felt like they tried to fit in as much as they could with a short time frame, so in parts it moved very fast. But that’s what happens when a book is created into a movie. It’s a fan fiction novel, fan fiction movie, so above all it was made for the fans and I think the fans will like/love it.
    The Hunger Games novels where turned into movies and the basis of the story is poverty stricken children are selected to complete to the death each year for sport for a rich city….and people loved these movies.
    In the end it’s just a movie.

    1. I think when it comes to The Hunger Game and also things like Game of Thrones, these are apparently seen as acceptable because they’re removed from reality. Whereas 50 Shades is somehow a reality? The fans will love it Amy, yes!

  14. I tried to read the first book and just couldn’t get past the poor writing. I don’t read for pleasure anywhere as much as I would like to, and to that end I don’t force myself to read anything I’m not really enjoying anymore.
    After recently watching Jamie Dorman in The Fall (with Gillian Anderson- highly recommended), where he plays a seriously creepy serial killer, I can’t imagine that feeling leaving me- but maybe that works anyway.
    I can’t see myself paying to see this, but given the travel I get to do, there’s a very good chance I will watch it on a plane!

  15. Haven’t read the book(s) and not sure I’ll see the movie. The Adelaide Fringe Festival is about to start and I have a feeling there will be plenty of action, nudity and comedy to keep me entertained. And that’s before I’ve even left home…! 😉

  16. Thank you for your review Nikki ,I also read all 3 books because my sister bought them and passed them around! They weren’t the worst books I’ve ever read or the best,as I’m sure the movie will be the same.i really wanted the romance to happen and it eventually did so that made me happy!
    Have a lovely weekend Nikki xx

  17. PS – LOVE LOVE LOVE Mr SY’s take on it! He’s hilarious (and on point!)

    Oh and the thing I can’t get past? How did that poor girl not get cystitis?!

  18. Thanks for sharing Nikki. Like you, I jumped on the bandwagon on holiday and they were perfect for that. Something I didn’t have to think about. I got bored, skipped most of the sex scenes and struggled through because I wanted to find out how it ended.

    It’s not the ideal relationship. No one thinks it is. I’m quite astonished by how much vitriol and po-faced breast thumping this movie has received.

    I’m going to see it because I have free tickets but I doubt very much I’ll pay to see the rest. Barely made it through the books and they were cheap as chip eBook downloads.

    Strip out (see what I did there) the whips and chains and it is a redemption love story.

    1. Hee hee … I thought someone would see that. It’s got a little crazy and I guess I’ve contributed to that today but I was honestly tired of all the one-side reviews written by people would never read the books or watch a movie like this if they didn’t have to!

  19. Thankyou for a review that doesn’t over think something that is not a great work of literature and takes it for what it is (I think the biggest crime is how boring and repetitive the story becomes). I just wish that they had condensed the three books into one movie…the entire story didn’t need three books (I am sure I nodded off several times and skipped pages in the third)…Hubby and I are off to see it tonight (on free tickets) but I can’t see myself paying to sit through the next two lol!

  20. Good review Nikki – I saw the movie yesterday and have read all 3 books which puts everything in context. For me it is a love story with a difference. I usually try and read a book before seeing the movie version and so overall I enjoyed it.

  21. Thank you! I love this review! How does the movie glorify domestic violence? BDSM is a real world thing and people that are into it, know exactly what they are doing!
    I have read all the books and like you said, I laboured through 2 and 3 so I can find out how their relationship pans out. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I will, despite all of the bad reviews.

  22. Haven’t seen the movie yet, but I did read the books. I am disturbed about the accusations of inciting domestic violence too and feel the same – people are overthinking it or just need to find something wrong with everything.

  23. I read all three books in quick succession after a girlfriend of mine raved on and on about them. I thought they were extremely poorly written, but a bit of fun. Much like the Twilight books, they offered a level of escapism that sucked you in wanting to know how it all ended up. I remember telling my hubby about the books as I was reading them, and how effed up I thought Grey was (he wanted her because she reminded him of his crack whore mother? Please.). Did I think he was emotionally abusing her? Of course I did. Did that make me want to enter into an emotionally abusive relationship with an unstable billionaire? Of course it didn’t. Because I am a grown woman capable of making my own choices. Did I watch Se7en all those years ago and think, man, I gotta get out there and start doing some seven deadly sin type killings – I’m so missing out! Of course not. Did I watch The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and wish I had been raped? Of course not. Did I enjoy both those movies for something else that they offered me? Yes. Is this a simplistic view of a more serious problem? It probably is, yes. Domestic violence is not pretty. I myself have been in an emotionally abusive relationship but seeing this movie and reading the books did not make me want to be in one again. Besides (without giving too much away), what happened at the end?? Remember ….

    I saw 50SOG yesterday morning, the first screening at my local cinema, with a bunch of girlfriends. It was fun. I laughed at the ridiculousness of the movie, thought the Business Meeting scene was particularly hot, thought Dakota Johnson did a great job of bringing to life a character that I didn’t particularly like. Jamie Dornan was pretty good as Grey too – great body! All in all, it was a thin storyline, but I knew that going in – I’ve read all the books.

    Movies are meant to be fun. Books are meant to be fun. Unless you are watching a true story documentary or reading a book of non-fiction, they are simply to be enjoyed. And if this book got 100 million people to read, then I think it is brilliant (the same way I think the Twilight series has done brilliant things for young adults).

    Anyway, I’d give the movie 2 stars (I gave the book one). The soundtrack is sensational, and the eye candy is good.

  24. I read the books, but seeing as though it’s been years since I saw an adult movie at the cinema, I won’t be seeing the movie any time soon.
    I’m glad you enjoyed it. I can’t help but wonder if Anastasia learned any new words for her vajayjay in the movie?

  25. I like your review Nikki. I have read all 3 books and I enjoyed looking underneath all the layers looking at their love story. I am thinking of taking myself to watch the movie today. I spent a little time yesterday reading the reviews from everywhere. I thought this review on Vogoe was worth it. A take on someone who had read the books and another who had not. V x

  26. Great review and I totally agree with you Nikki. I haven’t read the book but I am curious about the story. I have seen the movie and actually enjoyed watching it. As you’ve mentioned, I can see instances where Anastasia let’s people walk all over her – not Christian but even herf fiends and family. Yet she seemed to grow when she was with Christian and seemed more in control of the situation and what she wanted from the relationship. I’m dying to see the next ones now. And I have to read the book.

  27. I’ve read them all and was unsure about seeing the movie. The roar of the critics has been very loud this week so thank you for your review. It’s good to hear what someone you has actually read the book thinks! I think I’ll head along as planned with my girlfriends – we all read the books at the same time a few years ago. A debrief will no doubt be in order! x

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