FIFTY SHADES OF GREY – Review by Susan Granger

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Cleverly timed for Valentine’s Day, this film adaptation of E.L. James’ provocative novel revolves around a man’s desire for kinky sex and a woman’s determination to achieve emotional satisfaction. “I don’t do romance. My tastes are very singular,” dapper Seattle billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dorman) explains to naïve, virginal Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), who wants love and commitment. Read on…

They ‘met cute,’ when Anastasia’s journalist roommate (Eloise Mumford) gets sick and she’s dispatched to interview him for the college paper. An English Lit major, she’s clumsy and flustered; he’s icily formal and arrogant. But they connect, even though he asks her to sign a nondisclosure agreement over their first glass of white wine.

Flirtatiously batting her big blue eyes and curious about what being a sex slave means, lithe Anastasia willingly enters Christian’s locked “playroom,” where she learns about Dominance and Submission, Bondage and Discipline, Sadism and Masochism – in a sanitized way.

Less shocking than “Last Tango in Paris” (1972), it combines “9½ Weeks” with the luxurious enticements of “Pretty Woman” – and doesn’t get torrid for the first 40 minutes. Even then, when Anastasia’s spanked, blindfolded, and smacked with a riding crop, the soft-core sex scenes are choreographed into stylized sterility, as atmosphere triumphs over action.

That’s overwhelmingly evident when Christian plays melancholy, post-coital sonatas on the piano, giving Anastasia momentary glimpses into his traumatic childhood.

Adroitly adapted by Kelly Marcel (“Saving Mr. Banks”) and directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson “Nowhere Boy), it’s been criticized by domestic violence organizations and banned in Malaysia for “scenes that are not of natural sexual content.”

Exuding natural playfulness, Dakota Johnson is the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson; previously she was Justin Timberlake’s one-night stand in “The Social Network.” Former British model Jamie Dornan – a.k.a. “The Golden Torso”- plays a serial killer on the BBC-TV series “The Fall.”

Problem is: they have no erotic chemistry – and the supporting cast, including Marcia Gay Harden and Jennifer Ehle, is wasted.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a fetishistic 5 – with two future installments on the way.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.