Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and normally it would just be another day for most. Since it’s 2015 however, this romantic/heavily commercialised holiday also happened to mark the release of the highly anticipated Fifty Shades of Grey film adaption.
Based on the bestselling novel by E.L. James and directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, the drama follows the story of Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), a college graduate who enters a sadomasochistic relationship with Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) — a handsome business magnate with a tragic past.
While it’s difficult to write about Fifty Shades without referring to some of the issues that the film raised, that’s a discussion to be had in another article. Right now I’d like to share what I loved about the film.WARNING: contains spoilers.
I’ve been waiting in anticipation to see how second-time director Taylor-Johnson would handle the seemingly daunting task of bringing the novel to life (especially its more explicit scenes). Not only did she have E.L. James, Universal Pictures, and a frighteningly passionate mass of loyal book fans on her back, but she also had the added pressure of bringing to life a story not often told to mainstream audiences. From the first frame to the last, Taylor-Johnson painted a brilliant picture that was both faithful and tasteful, and if there is a sequel, I hope she continues her partnership with the franchise.
Screenwriter Kelly Marcell had the hard task of adapting the novel into a script that was both loyal to the book, and believable to film audiences. So much of the novel’s prose contained the inner monologue of Anastasia, which wouldn’t have worked particularly well as a voice over. What surprised me the most was how much humour was injected into the script. Parts of the novel (which many fans feared may have sounded ridiculous on screen) were put to excellent comedic use — “laters baby” ring any bells?
All I can say is wow. Dakota Johnson truly blew me away. I’m sure many people were expecting a character so void of self-respect and silly thanks to the many ‘inner goddess’ references made throughout the novel. However, Johnson managed to bring a real thoughtfulness to the character, not to mention brilliant comedic timing when the occasion called for it. Johnson breathed life into Anastasia in a way that made her naivety less frustrating than the novel, and watching the character on screen was a much different experience than reading about her ‘inner goddess’.
In between longing stares and very occasional spanking, I couldn’t help but find myself admiring the beautiful cinematography. Christian’s cold and sterile office and apartment doesn’t exactly make for compelling imagery, but in Seamus McGarvey’s experienced hands, every shot was a dream to watch.
I really must applaud Sam Taylor-Johnson, the cast and crew on this one. Adapting one of the most widely-discussed novels of the past few years can’t have been easy, particularly with so many people openly wishing for it to fail. Having scored the highest February opening of all time in north America, not to mention the adoration of pleased fans, I would easily call this a winner.
Imaghe source: Paramount Pictures.