For about half of its duration, Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Fifty Shades of Grey (C) maintains a fairly respectable sense of intrigue about whether its bookish co-ed (Dakota Johnson) and her unlikely business magnate boyfriend (Jamie Dornan) will indeed be an ideal match, despite his S&M tendencies. Alas the film gets tied up in fifty shades of loose plot-ends and considerably mounting degrees of absurdity. For a while a meet-cute romance and then a bit of an erotic thriller, the film seems to be at a loss for what it all is supposed to add up to by the final reel. It’s fine to tease the notion of “how far would you go for love?” but then you have to actually answer that question. The two leads are game for the pulpy page-turner quality until they are stuck in a puzzle box that neither illuminates their cardboard characters nor elicits any real answers on theme. With all its talk of negotiations and contracts, it practically had the ambition of at least becoming an Indecent Proposal or Disclosure level pop opus, but it fizzles and flails in most regards. Supporting characters are introduced and summarily dismissed, and the sexy sequences total about seven. And they’re not even as deadly sinful as many viewers will be hoping. Let’s just say the film is likely to leave folks wanting, and not in the ways they may wish.
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