The colour which struck my attention on Valentines Day 2017 was not the classic red or even the more playful pink. The hue of the day was a distracting blue. I had given some blue flowers to my girlfriend who was in turn wearing blue. For some reason this was on my mind as we viewed Fifty Shades Darker in the cinema. She had seen the previous movie in the series where I was still a virgin when it came to this more mature version of Twilight. When I say more mature I mean in theory, as from what I have heard and even what the movie insinuates is some full on torture porn. Not the torture porn one might see in any of the Saw movies but a more sensual version.
The problem with producing and releasing such a film in the United States is based in the Puritan culture of the country. The movie rating system is so oddly specific in what is and is not allowed in a movie. For example, if a flick uses the F-bomb once (and not in a sexual way) it can be given a PG-13 rating. If fuck is mentioned more than once (or used in a sexual way) the movie is automatically branded with an R rating.
Now how is this related to “torture porn”? In the case of the Saw movies, where multiple victims are subjected to horrific, bloody, and medieval torture, everything is shown. No real censorship is being taken out on ripping apart the human body but on the other hand when it comes to “sensual torture porn” a la Fifty Shades Darker, nothing is shown. Sure all the weapons or “toys” in Christian Grey’s closet are visible, but once they are taken on the many, many, trips to the bedroom they are obstructed from view. Every time the main characters are having sex the camera cuts to their faces. Not that I am really asking for it, but Mr. Grey only fully de-robes once. These factors ironically make the sex scenes the most boring ones of the entire film.
Speaking of obstruction, whoever was the director of photography needs to go back to school. The work here is completely uninspired. No movement, no framing, horrible composition, no inventive tricks and no incentive to keep watching. The whole point of a movie is to show not tell. Some directors may use creative methods to insinuate plot elements but none of that is done here. The plot is so loose and phoney that it would make a soap opera look like a Stanley Kubrick film. A half-assed antagonist sort-of gets what is coming to him, then you find out at the end that he isn’t dead? Christian’s mom was a crackhead so he abuses women who look like her? There is a moment of suspense near the last 20 minutes but then once you start to care the movie says, “Just kidding!” So then why even bother starting that thread?
The acting is equally atrocious. Annastasia is so ready to jump into bed with Christian that you would swear she is just a free prostitute. Christian walks up with an open hand to a girl wielding a gun then she just kneels for him. Anna cries and then they have monotonous sex. Wake me up when it is over. At least the music must be good, right? I mean the opening credits mention Danny Elfman. No, even the music is poppy trash that adds nothing to the picture.
The one thing that got me through this chore was the colour blue. Nearly every frame had something of this shade. A shirt, an earing, a painting, etc. Maybe I was just escaping this torture like a starving child desperately wanting a crumb of bread. The bread was my escape from this cliché. I had to escape though, otherwise you might end up going to see this movie. Who am I kidding, most people will see it anyway knowing it will be bad. When you get bored play a game with the person next to you and try to find as many blue things as possible on screen. It will distract you from this major dud.
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson
Director: D.J. Caruso
Writers: Niall Leonard, E.L. James