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FIFTY SHADES OF GREY

SYNOPSIS: When innocent college student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) interviews the young, brilliant, and beautiful entrepreneur Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), she is surprised to discover that she desires him deeply. And as for Christian, he finds himself intrigued by, and unable to resist, the extremely attractive and independent Ana - but Christian makes clear that their relationship must proceed on his own terms. Initially hesitant about Christian's shocking erotic preferences, Ana uncovers the man's secrets, demons, and the roots of his need for control as the pair becomes physically and passionately involved. As the affair grows, Ana even confronts her own unexpected dark desires. It's an erotic, amusing, and spicy tale of emotional growth and physical pleasures.

Review by Louise Keller:
She is a romantic in the English literature sense; he doesn't do romance, dates or sleepovers, just kinky sex in his playroom - The Red Room of Pleasure. Welcome to my world, says Jamie Dornan's Christian Grey, as he spanks the shapely, lacy bottom of Dakota Johnson's Anastasia Steele. Perfectly capturing the tone of E.L. James' sensational best-selling novel, this tale of control, sex and submission is tantalizing, titillating and provocative as it offers a voyeuristic peek into a dark world behind closed doors where pain and pleasure are prime menu items. It is a big tease.

Fans will not be disappointed - it's the new Twilight, 9 1/2 Weeks and Secretary all rolled into one. Targeted largely at a female audience, it is an outright chick flick; the guys may be less enthusiastic. It relies on our fascination and dynamic between the two lead characters.

Johnson (Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson's daughter) is the film's greatest asset - she has that special star quality, when her every action and reaction is riveting. Like Kristen Stewart's Bella in Twilight, her Anastasia has an appealing innocence as she is sucked into a manipulative world that takes her beyond her comfort zone. It's titillating rather than erotic and yes, there is an abundance of sex scenes, all beautifully directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, who effectively envelops us in a moody cocoon of lust. Seduction and longing play a big part; we feel as though we are getting more than we really are. I get a bit frustrated about those who agitate this is a statement on women's rights; to my mind, it's nothing of the sort. It's a coming of age fantasy adapted from a 'trashy' page turner.

Kelly Marcel's adaptation quickly shows us the contrast between the two worlds - of the virginal literature student from Portland and the immaculately dressed billionaire from rainy Seattle, who exercises control in all things. He's got the plush pad of course, with the grand piano, the dressing room to die for and a fleet of cars. The push-pull element of the relationship between Anastasia and Christian is developed from the outset, beginning in the establishment scene in which Anastasia interviews Christian for the college newsletter. The dialogue comes straight from the novel and it sizzles. It doesn't take long for Christian to bite her lip - something he flags he would like to do the first time he notices her doing it. Not that dissimilar, I suppose to another biting urge in Twilight! There's intensity and a tangible chemistry between Johnson and Dornan, although the latter seems at times rather bland. I felt myself wishing he had the enigmatic James Spader factor a la Secretary, as he spanked Maggie Gyllenhaal.

There is no shopping spree as such, but Anastasia gets the spoils, like Julia Roberts did in Pretty Woman: clothes, cars, helicopters and joy rides. He wants her to belong to him: to be his submissive. She just wants the 'normal' things: to touch him, go on a date, make love and spend the night together. But that's not how Christian is wired. Cable ties, masking tape, rope, peacock feathers and leather whips are his playthings. Watch out for the scene at Christian's swanky offices, in which Anastasia calls the shots when negotiating the terms of the bondage contracts he wants her to sign.

Stylishly shot and delivering on expectations, Taylor-Johnson paces the film beautifully, the sense of anticipation created from the hot and cold nature of the ever-changing relationship. Of course, we know there are three films in the series, so be prepared for a tease - after all, isn't that indicative of the entire film?

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (MA15+)
(US, 2015)

CAST: Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson, Luke Grimes, Jennifer Ehle

PRODUCER: Dana Brunetti, Michel De Luca, E.L. James

DIRECTOR: Sam Taylor-Johnson

SCRIPT: Kelly Marcel (novel by E.L James)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Seamus McGravey

EDITOR: Lisa Gunning

MUSIC: Danny Elfman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: David Wasco

RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 12, 2015







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