Movie Review: Fifty Shades Darker

IMG_7660The relationship status of Christian and Anastasia continues to be “It’s Complicated” in James Foley’s not-as sloppy-seconds-as-you’d-think sequel Fifty Shades Darker (C+). Dakota Johnson and Jaimie Dornan actually improve a bit on their original portrayals of a couple from different sides of the track marks, as they advance their unusual romance against the demons of his dysfunctional past. It’s perplexing, but they make the far-fetched characters relatable. The struggle to tame this wounded billionaire is real, and sometimes he earns a little Red Room. Overlong and oddly paced most of the time, this erotic thriller could have used some whips, chains and clamps in the editing room. The final act begins to progress like a season of a campy eighties nighttime drama (Falcon Breast?). In a particularly saucy role as a BDSM mistress who keeps showing up to warn Ana about Christian like a Dickensian apparition, Kim Basinger seems to cast all fifty forms of shade. The movie is beautifully filmed, a kind of love letter to Seattle through the spherical lens of Ben Wa. There’s even an homage to Johnson’s real-life mom with a line right out of Working Girl as Ana advances in her publishing company. The cliffhanger in the original didn’t prompt much interest in this sequel, but Foley tarts things up enough this go-around that he may indeed have built interest in bringing on a third.

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I've reviewed films for more than 20 years. Current movie reviews of new theatrical releases and direct-to-video or streaming films are added weekly to the Silver Screen Capture movie news site. Many capsule critiques originally appeared in expanded form in my syndicated Lights Camera Reaction column.

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Posted in 2017

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