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The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

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Fifty Shades: A review from a reluctant fan


Unlike my friends who have devoured the “Fifty Shades of Grey” books, I went into the theater knowing nothing about the series, besides obviously, that there would be sex. Although I didn’t exactly have high hopes, I was surprised by what did catch my attention. (Warning: spoilers ahead.)

So is this the 2000s?

From start to finish Anastasia uses a flip phone. At first I thought maybe “Fifty Shades of Grey” takes place in the early 2000s,  since that could be the only explanation for why a senior in college who shares a nice apartment with just one friend uses this retro phone. But then I noticed the iPhones and realized this is the movie’s way of saying she is of a lower class. This is emphasized by the constant reminder that her laptop is broken, which Christian eventually replaces, and her old-school powder blue buggy that Christian upgrades for a fancy red car. However, no one can possibly believe this when she moves after graduation from her nice apartment in college to an even nicer one in Seattle, WA. And even if I were to think she was on the poorer side, why wouldn’t Christian buy her a smartphone? He has no problem giving her gifts, especially when it means easier communication with her.

Of course Anastasia gets a good parking spot.

As soon as Anastasia zipped into that primo spot outside of Christian’s office in the beginning of the movie, I turned to my friend Annie and said, “Yeah, right.” Anastasia got a space right out front every time she went to that office building in Seattle without ever having to circle around the block. Yeah right.

Am I actually chuckling at some of this?

My expectation for this movie was set low, very low. According to various entertainment outlets, there were creative arguments between the director Sam Taylor-Johnson and author EL James, casting difficulties in finding a Christian Grey, and apparently great disdain between the leads Dakota Johnson (Anastasia) and Jamie Dornan (Christian). While no one will be nominated for his or her part in this movie, I did find myself laughing when Anastasia drunk dialed Christian (on her flip phone of course.) It also didn’t hurt that the scene led up to a shirtless Dornan. There were other scenes sprinkled throughout that made me laugh too, and not in a bad way.

Well this is obviously based on Twilight…

If you thought these characters seemed similar, you would be right. “Fifty Shades of Grey” originated as Twilight fan fiction written by James. If you have ever read or watched the vampire series, you probably wouldn’t be surprised by this. Anastasia is awkward and has bad hair just like Bella. Christian is controlling and unclear about his feelings for Anastasia—“stay away from me,” “no I care about you,” etc.— similar to the way Edward acts towards Bella. Plus, the two men have a habit of sneaking into the women’s bedrooms. The couple’s relationships escalate quickly and seem to occur almost out of the blue. On top of that, both are set in the Pacific Northwest, and have a weird scene where the boyfriend leads his girlfriend into the woods and she doesn’t think she’s about to get murdered.

….and I seem to like Fifty Shades better.

This isn’t saying much, but if I had to choose between the two I would rather watch Fifty Shades than Twilight. In my opinion, Johnson and Dornan are more pleasurable to watch act than Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. Perhaps this is just the natural progression from teen years to adulthood.

Run, Anastasia!

When Anastasia finally learns of Christian’s secret, and gets to see the “playroom” she doesn’t seem frightened. A man that she barely knows just brought her into a secret room with whips, shackles, and other devices that could be confused with torture or kidnapping, and yet she just stares. Maybe she was in shock, but she didn’t seem that alarmed, which I think most women would be (and should be.)

No way is it okay that Anastasia’s mom is skipping her graduation.

Anastasia’s mom calls to let her daughter know that she can’t fly from Georgia to make her only child’s college graduation because her husband broke his foot. When Anastasia shows the slightest bit of disappointment her mom gets snippy with her. How does a broken foot prevent the man from flying or from being able to take care of himself for a weekend if his wife leaves him? This makes no sense, like a lot of things the movie.

Rita Ora?

Rita Ora is on the screen for six seconds to play Christian’s sister. That is all.

Anastasia’s dad should be way more concerned that his daughter is dating the COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER and that he had no idea.

Immediately following the graduation ceremony, Christian introduces himself to Anastasia’s dad as her boyfriend. The dad looks somewhat surprised, but not bewildered enough for a man who just learned his daughter is dating a multibillionaire businessman that she had forgotten to mention. Maybe her flip phone doesn’t let her make long distance calls to fill her dad in about her life.

How did Christian become a multibillionaire so quickly?

Yes, Christian does come from a wealthy family, but that doesn’t necessarily explain how he became a multibillionaire by 27. There were one or two vague lines about “media” and “acquisitions,” but nothing explaining what he does to validate having a skyscraper with his name on it.

Are the clone-like secretaries Christian’s past submissives?

All of Christian’s secretaries look the same — tall, skinny, blonde hair in buns. They almost seem like robots. He told Anastasia that there have been 15 women before her, so it is my theory that once they stop sleeping with Christian, they are transformed into his secretary clones. This could be a whole spin-off, guys.

This soundtrack is actually good.

For some reason it seems like there was more focus on the soundtrack of the movie than the movie itself. I guess if you don’t have the greatest storyline you can distract the audience with Beyoncé, Ellie Goulding, and Annie Lennox. It sort of worked, too.


There have been psychologists and researchers coming out saying that this film promotes unhealthy and abusive relationships. Anastasia and Christian are far from the perfect couple, but I never thought of him as being abusive. I don’t have authority to say what is and isn’t abuse, but as a young woman who experts believe could be influenced by this movie, I found Anastasia to actually be thoughtful and responsible about the whole thing. She deliberated about what Christian was asking from her for awhile; in fact, if there was a plot to the movie it revolved mostly around whether Anastasia would or would not sign the contract to be Christian’s submissive. She negotiated the contract and told him what she would and would not do and asked him questions. It wasn’t disturbing until the end, which was difficult to watch. However, once it escalated to a point where Anastasia wasn’t comfortable, she left. I don’t think she is a role model for how to handle relationships, but at the same time I never found her to be a sad or weak woman and she wasn’t forced into any of this. A bit naïve? Yes, but the female role could have been portrayed much worse than this.

Wait, it’s over?!

Am I actually sitting in this theater wanting to know what happens next? Did “Fifty Shades of Grey” manage to make me intrigued to figure out if Anastasia returns to Christian or if he is able to win her back? I’m assuming there is some reunion as there are two more books… But seriously, what happens next?

There wasn’t that much sex….

For a movie based on an erotic novel, there wasn’t as much sex as I thought there would be. A lot of the graphic scenes were filmed in a way that was choppy and blurry. As I told my mom on the phone, once she got over the horror that I actually paid to see this movie, “It’s like a really bad rom-com with just a bit more sex than normal.” That’s probably not the review producers of the film were looking for, but it’s more favorable than some others.


Photo courtesy of: / Hashi Photo

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Fifty Shades: A review from a reluctant fan