The highly anticipated second instalment in the Fifty Shades trilogy is finally here. Fifty Shades Darker picks up soon after the events of the first film, with Anastasia attempting to move on from Christian Grey and starting a new job as an editor’s assistant. But Christian wants her back, and he is willing to accept her terms this time: no rules, no punishments, no more secrets. The two attempt to build a relationship, while facing dark figures from Christian’s past.
Two years have passed since the first instalment was released and the dialogue has, mercifully, improved! This film’s screenplay was adapted from the book by E.L. James’ husband Niall Leonard, and while it’s still corny as heck there are moments when the humour was surprisingly self aware. The film takes a really dark turn in the middle from which (I felt) it doesn’t fully recover, but this feels like a casualty of the adaptation from book to screen.
The plot races along at breakneck speed, but the plot is really just an excuse to stitch a series ultra-glamourous and dramatic scenarios together – which makes perfect sense given that the source material is erotic fantasy. Yes, the sex scenes are raunchy as heck, guaranteed to raise a few temperatures in the room.
The film looks immaculate. Every frame in the film is designed to within an inch of its life, at times looking and feeling like a two-hour long advertisement for literally everything that’s on screen: clothes, cars, gadgets.
There’s no denying that this film has a fabulous cast. Dakota Johnson really surprised me in the first film, bringing subtlety and surprisingly good comedic timing to her performance, and she continues this here. Jamie Dornan is excellent as Christian Grey, not only because he looks the part but he is, genuinely, a talented actor who brings some edge to the character. Both Johnson and Dornan manage to get through some sketchy dialogue relatively unscathed. Marcia Gay Harden and Rita Ora bring some much-needed warmth to the screen as Christian’s adoptive mother and sister respectively, while Oscar winner Kim Basinger is pure ice as Elena Lincoln, Christian’s “Mrs Robinson”.
I won’t get into the many issues with Fifty Shades, because this is a film review and that is another issue for another article. If what you’re expecting from this film is an erotic fantasy with two attractive young people in totally unrealistic circumstances and a barely stitched-together plot which places them in and ultra-glam settings, then you’re in luck – this delivers!
Image: Paramount Pictures