Fifty Shades Darker, Out now nationwide, Cert: 18, *
Review by Cara O’Doherty
IF you have a sensitive or prudish disposition please turn the page, this review is about to get steamy.
Actually, that is not really true because the sequel to the massively successful Fifty Shades of Grey is anything but steamy.
Sure, there are some uncomfortable moments that provoke nervous, twittering laughter from the audience, but there is about as much sex appeal to the scenes as watching two goldfish chase each other around a bowl.
Fifty Shades of Grey came out, pun intended, in 2015, and despite being universally critically panned it made astronomical amounts of money at the box office. It was partly due to the unexpected success of the 2011 book of the same name, written by EL James. There was also a sense of curiosity.
It was the first time a couple engaged in handcuffs and whips in the bedroom in a mainstream film. For the first time ever it was socially acceptable to watch porn in the cinema and to be able to talk about the naughty goings-on’s in the work canteen.
At the end of the first film dominant Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and submissive Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) had a massive falling out. She had entered into his world of kinky behaviour having no previous experience in the bedroom and things had gotten a little too much for her.
Grey, having experienced love for the first time, was devastated, but he did not chase after her.
Skip ahead to Fifty Shades Darker and Christian is sending flowers to Ana to congratulate her on her new job.
It takes very little for Christian to convince Ana that he wants her back. She is happy to go back to him but under her own terms. He cannot own her as he did before. She has to be allowed to make her own decisions and things can only get whip-y and cuff-y on her terms.
Christian agrees to the terms, sure isn’t he a new man now? He can give up a lifetime of being a dominant for love, yadda, yadda, yawn.
It is all terribly boring as they stumble around in new territory. Christian is plagued by nightmares of his abusive childhood past.
His more recent past, a submissive he got fed up with is now stalking Ana who has enough troubles of her own already.
At work her boss is a massive perv, just waiting for an opportunity to have his wicked way with her.
In between stalkers, pervs and bad nightmares Christian and Ana get to know each other again, in a biblical sense. For some bizarre reason Christian rarely takes his trousers off, yet Ana is buck naked on several occasions.
Their bedroom activities are relatively “vanilla” as they keep pointing out, until Ana decides she wants to step things up, at her own pace of course.
The big question is can Christian manage to respect her boundaries or is he going to get all riled up and reach for the whips?
The film is remarkably boring. The dialogue is appalling, the plot non-existent.
He may have sharp edges thanks to intense workouts but there is nothing sharp about Dornan’s performance. He is a good actor in general but here he is going through the motions. His accent slips on more than one occasion. I imagine he did not really care to put in the full effort to keep up his American accent.
Johnston is as bland as dishwater. Her tone rarely changes, her expressions mostly lifeless. As a couple they have no chemistry, they are like two half dead fish rubbing together to get warm and bring themselves back to life.
The only time they show any sense of emotion for each other is following an incident with a helicopter.
Kim Basinger is woefully underused as the Mrs. Robinson type character that stole young Christian’s innocence and is on the verge of going full Fatal Attraction on him.
The film does look very well thanks to directors James Foley penchant for shiny things and he spared no expense on fancy yachts and dresses.
The film did not have a press screening and I convinced a friend to come to see the film with me on the grounds that I did not want to look like a pervert paying to see it by myself. When it ended the only good thing she could say was “these were great seats you booked.”
It really says it all.