Fifty Shades of Grey
Traumatized veterans say war is long stretches of mind-numbing boredom punctuated by brief moments of unbearable terror. Now I know how they feel, except instead of terror it was more like limp joy whenever Christian or Anastasia said something funny again to relieve the unrelenting despair of watching their courtship. Something like, "I have known what it is like to be profoundly hungry," or, "But I am mad. Palm-twitchingly mad," or, "Everything you play is so sad," or, "My mother was a crack addict," Pause. "And a prostitute."
I guess everyone has to find their own way to draw courage for the tougher parts of life, but lacking any whisky or cocaine, these were the straws I clutched at to get through Fifty Shades of Grey. If you're not sure whether the above dialogue will be strong enough to numb the misery, then you might want to think about bringing your own chemical support to get you through. We all have different poisons. Just don't say I didn't warn you.
Basically, it's shit. It's really really shit. Thomas Hardy would think it's a bit too bleak. Samuel Beckett would give up writing, knowing he will never be able to capture existential futility as well as this movie. With cold-hearted mastery, the writer and director of Fifty Shades manage to remove anything that threatens to come within fifty miles of interesting about the romance of Christian and Anastasia.
Having read the first fifty pages of the book, I remember there was some narrative tension in the fact that you weren't ever sure if he really loves her or not. That, along with every other shade of Grey, has been removed with brutal precision. In fact, each time any other character – her sassy, possibly alcoholic mum, or his happy-go-lucky brother – looks like they might be in danger of lightening the brain-grinding torpor, perhaps by wondering whether they might be related to the two stupidest human beings on the planet, they are instantly removed from the action – narratively bundled into the back of a van – so that we may concentrate more purely on the spiritual void of the two main characters.
"I'm fifty shades of fucked-up!" Christian cries after yet another scene. I wish you were. In fact I'd settle for five. Okay, three. I've seen the frowny sad face and the frowny grumpy face. Playing the piano in your underpants does not count as a psychological facet. And neither does being into a bit of spanky fun, which the film seems to think is some kind of Hamlet-style tragic flaw. Spanky fun is spanky fun. Though it's as non-existent here as Christian Grey's edited-out cock.