The opening scenes of Fifty Shades Of Grey are crafted for steam.
The meet-cute between virginal student Anastasia (Dakota Johnson), and millionaire businessman, Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), is loaded with close ups, phallic symbols and corny dialogue. It’s giddy, romantic fantasy.
Christian is a ‘dominant’ but it’s outside the bedroom where the fantasy turns sour. Christian pursues Anastasia with disturbing persistence, isolating her from friends and family through a Non-Disclosure Agreement.
Director Sam Taylor-Johnson and actress, Dakota Johnson, bring us close to Anastasia’s unease about being reduced to a ‘submissive’ fantasy and, despite the lighthearted opening, it feels irresponsible to watch Fifty Shades Of Grey as the light entertainment viewers might expect.
Confused with Christian’s wider control issues, his dominance fantasies represent the ultimate extension of gender stereotypes. Yet the film’s writers appear unaware of the potential satire on their hands, instead doggedly pursuing the source material for titillation and romantic fantasy. Something that entirely fails.
By confusing a romantic hero with a thinly veiled abuser, Fifty Shades Of Grey becomes a repetitive, depressing fantasy.