Sex, sex, and more sex. With its mounting hype around the globe comes controversy surrounding its subject matter. In a book that promises sexual escapades and erotic fantasies, the screen adaptation is no less explicit. If there is absolutely a reason to see erotica in a cinema, Fifty Shades Of Grey would be it.

English filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson helms this romantic drama based on the bestselling novel of the same name by E. L. James. The first of a trilogy, to say the film is “shady” is an understatement. With about 20 minutes’ worth of sex scenes promised, or about a fifth of the film, this film can be summed up as an extended porno flick with a tried-and-tested story.

The film adaptation sticks fairly closely to the source material, which means much of the lines are translated onscreen as well. This, unfortunately, leaves the dialogue riddled with clichés especially hilarious when heard aloud. In fact, this flick could even be labelled as a so-bad-its-good comedy.

Dakota Johnson plays innocent girl-next-door Anastasia Steele, who apparently does not know how to fend off advances from guys deemed ¨hot¨ and dominating. Johnson herself is honestly not the prettiest one, but it is her demure personality that makes the film work. Her roommate Katherine Kavanagh (Eloise Mumford) is the (very) typical girlfriend who gets excited just thinking of attractive guys.

Taylor-Johnson portrays Anastasia and Christian’s relationship in a slight role reversal; where Anastasia is the straightforward female. If complicated males were to exist, Christian Grey would be one such example. As the CEO of Grey Holdings (who also enjoys expensive hobbies such as flying), he refuses to speak on certain occasions and makes demands without reason.

Irish actor Jamie Dornan is perhaps the most poised to play Christian. Though he lacks the typical Hollywood heartthrob’s hunky physique, he pulls off an accent and charisma onscreen that, understandably, seduces the ladies.

Fifty Shades of Grey expertly covers topics of BDSM, bondage and discipline, on top of the erotica and lovemaking. Initially, it is a surreal visual fantasy to witness the events unfold onscreen. But after a prolonged duration, the sex scenes feel forced, dull, and actually boring.

If the first film can turn out this dull, it remains to be seen if the franchise will remain marketable as a trilogy series. Fifty Shades Of Grey is not terrible per se, since there is very well quite a bit of entertainment. But if you are looking for an actual story with a plot, you’re better off elsewhere.

Fifty Shades of Grey is now showing in theatres.

Directed by: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Genre: Drama, Romance
Running time: 125 minutes
Classification: R21 – Mature Theme & Sexual Scenes
Rating: 2/5 stars

Premiered in Special Gala in the 65th Berlin International Film Festival