Film Review: Fifty Shades of Grey


Fifty Shades of Grey. The world and his wife (most especially his wife) are talking about it. I am reliably informed that the source writing is painfully bad. Having not read the book I do not feel qualified to comment.

Now there is the film chasing box office records and, once again, I was unable to join the conversation. Over the weekend I mulled the possibility of rectifying this.

The pros:

  • I would be educated in a popular phenomenon;
  • Watching the film would take less time than reading the book;
  • Jamie Dornan;
  • A bad film can be entertaining if viewers are ready to laugh at it;
  • Once watched I would feel free to express my opinion.

The cons:

  • I would be adding to the viewing figures thereby encouraging film makers to do this again;
  • I would be using time that could be better spent watching and supporting another film.

In the end the decision was made by my family. It transpired that they too wished to join the general conversation. I am amused that this of all films became a family outing. We haven’t laughed together as much in quite some time.

So, what did I think?

The first thing to note is that there is a lot less sex, violence, bondage and control in Fifty Shades than there is in Game of Thrones. All that pencil chewing, lip biting and undressing may be titilating to some (as Christian remarks, Ana does have a lovely body) but it is hardly shocking in the context of a large chunk of popular, post watershed viewing fed directly into our homes. What the GofT men do to women, indeed what Jamie Dornan’s character in The Fall did to his victims, is much more hard core than anything done in this film.

My second observation is to second all those commentators who have criticised the clunky dialogue. It is as corny and stilted in places as I was led to expect. It made us laugh out loud.

In some ways it reminded me of the Austin Powers movies. Replace the sixties technicolour with smouldering shades of grey (even the opening cloud sequence came across as contrived) and what is left is a supposedly hot, desirable man who has women falling at his feet when it must be obvious to all viewers that he is anything but.

Fifty Shades may not deliberately mock itself but it is ridiculous. The artful lighting and angles highlighted robotic, repetitive characters. They did not match their back story. The plot, such as it was, had too many holes.

As an example, Christian Grey is a rich and successful businessman, a self confessed control freak, yet his mother is able to walk straight into his home unannounced. What twenty-something year old bachelor is going to allow that? And what mother, allowed such access, wouldn’t have sussed out the red room on her first visit? Mothers notice locked doors and are a lot more savvy than their children are ever likely to comprehend.

I finally see where the Twilight link comes in although it was hard to pay attention with the distraction of The Contract. I’m sure that a few drinking games could be played around that. Perhaps this explains why staff appeared with wine at the mention of butt plugs.

So yes, it was dreadful, but the question has to be was it dreadful enough to become cult viewing? Despite our amusement I doubt I would choose to watch it again.




Film Review: The Silent Waiting Room

Yesterday I was offered the opportunity to review a newly released, independent, short film. As I watched a run-through to see if I would be interested, it quickly became clear that this was not just a film but a work of art. Yes, I wanted to review it. My concern was that I should do such a creation justice.

‘The Silent Waiting Room’ was conceived, written and directed by Jack Ralls, who was also largely responsible for the editing. This talented young actor has appeared alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC’s crime drama, ‘Sherlock’. He has also been a knight in ‘Merlin’ and has had roles in ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Casualty’.

In this short film he plays Jerry, one of four friends living out their afterlife through silent movies which allow them to to re live their golden years as actors. Jerry, however is drawn to his wife, Grace, still in the living world, thus breaking the facade of the romantic play in which they try to continue.

The film is presented in black and white with an accompanying, hauntingly beautiful soundtrack. It makes use of techniques from the hey day of silent films, with clever use of light, shadow, flickering celluloid and stills, artfully employed to evoke the appropriate atmosphere and emotion.

A chase scene makes use of classic, humorous techniques, with protagonists running through a variety of settings including fields, parks, streets, and steps; going unseen when a back is turned, hiding an implausible number of people in a basket. The locations, which are all in and around Bristol, are cleverly juxtaposed to facilitate flow and variety, with characters moving too and fro seamlessly.

In such a short space of time the film offers menace, threat, humour and pathos. The most moving scenes are when those in the afterlife visit the still living, their now elderly partners who are still to join them. The juddering, merging of black and white with colour works perfectly, treasured photographs explaining who is who.

Although I guess I could see it coming, the denouement still had me in tears, not something that I succumb to easily. What a lovely thought that the frail and elderly may return to their prime and join those they love, that death is another beginning.

The whole idea behind this film appealed, that there is an afterlife where we may meet up with friends and loved ones to have some fun. In this life we are well aware of the feelings of loss that a death produces, it was interesting to consider that those who go before us may also feel bereft until we join them.

Jack Ralls was obviously key in the making of this film, but there were many others who provided the talent required to bring this project to life. None of the actors, artists, musicians or supporting crew should be overlooked. When a work that is so aesthetically pleasing is brought to my attention I realise how much I take for granted when being entertained. Art such as this deserves wider recognition and appreciation.

Have I piqued your interest? If so then get yourself a cup or glass of your favourite beverage, settle yourself on a comfy chair, and indulge in fifteen minutes of pleasure. This sublime film should be seen and shared, enjoy.