Movie Review: Fifty Shades of Grey + New York Premier

Fifty Shades of Grey
Release Date: February 13th 2015
Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Writers: Kelley Marcel (screenplay), E. L. James (novel)
Main Cast: Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Jennifer Ehle, Max Martini
Genres: Drama | Romance
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong sexual content including dialogue, some unusual behavior and graphic nudity, and for language

Official Sites: Website | Facebook | Twitter | IMDb
Fifty Shades of Grey is the hotly anticipated film adaptation of the bestselling book that has become a global phenomenon. Since its release, the “Fifty Shades” trilogy has been translated into 51 languages worldwide and sold more than 100 million copies in e-book and print—making it one of the biggest and fastest-selling book series ever.

Stepping into the roles of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, who have become iconic to millions of readers, are Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson.

Joining Dornan and Johnson in the cast are Luke Grimes as Elliot, Christian’s brother; Victor Rasuk as José, Anastasia’s close friend; Eloise Mumford as Kate, Anastasia’s best friend and roommate; Marcia Gay Harden as Dr. Grace Trevelyan Grey, Christian’s mother; Rita Ora as Mia, Christian’s sister; Max Martini as Taylor, Christian’s bodyguard; Callum Keith Rennie as Ray, Anastasia’s stepfather; Jennifer Ehle as Carla, Anastasia’s mother; and Dylan Neal as Bob, Carla’s husband.

Fifty Shades of Grey is directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and produced by Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti alongside E L James, the creator of the series. The screenplay for the film is by Kelly Marcel.

I was given the opportunity to attend The Today Show hosted New York Premier of the Fifty Shades of Grey film at the Ziegfeld Theater.

There has been much discussion since Universal announced the book was going into film production voicing concerns about how “true” to the book the film would be.

Capturing a book on film is a complex exercise in taking the essence of beat (pardon the expression in context of the films’ subject) of certain plot points for the film to be recognizable and embraceable by the film going public who are more than familiar with the source material.

There is a complex problem when a much-loved book is translated into a film. Film adaptations from popular or well known book tend to have an audience expectation that what they imagined, felt, thought and experienced during the journey of the narrative, would be translated on the screen matching that reading experience.

Fifty Shades of Grey, the film more than achieves bringing the best of the 50 Shades novel narrative to the screen. The chemistry between Jamie Dornan (Christian Grey), and Dakota Johnson (Anastasia Steele) was pretty much what would make or break the film. There is an abundant amount of chemistry between the leads fueled by an energetic directorial pace of the film. Kelly Marcel, the screenwriter, did an excellent job including some of the “beats” we, as fans of the 50 Shades books wanted to see. Without giving spoilers, most fans of the novels will be very happy with what was included in the screenplay. Albeit there are some alterations and compressions made for certain scenes from the book. These economies are made due to the nature of translating a dense narrative into a more visual film format.

Director Sam Taylor-Johnson does an excellent job visualizing this story of a brilliant man with a tortured soul and a young woman who comes to life falling in love with Christian while she attempts to bring Christian into the light.

The pacing of the film is fluid and does not feel chapter bound or episodic. The actors bring a high level of energy to their performances. Most importantly, Dakota Johnson’s performance is extraordinary. In some ways her performance reminds you of a young Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. Her performance is real, authentic and moving. You see Christian and the wonderful characters from the books through her eyes and experiences. It is also here Sam Taylor-Johnson’s direction truly shines in having the camera close up on both Ms. Johnson and Mr. Dornan so you can experience their chemistry and you watch them fall in love. It is through Dakota Johnson’s eyes you see the emotions of the scenes. Jamie Dornan’s performance was also nuanced and emotional. While Ana reacts openly and expressively, we see Christian’s internal struggles and joys. You see the struggle with his demons, and the immediate attraction Christian has with Ana, and the push pull of what he wants versus what he believes is the right thing for Ana. The intimate scenes between Ana and Christian are what drove the “R” rating of the film, but aren’t prurient, and are tastefully done, and very sexy.

The balance of the cast was just as enjoyable. Special notice goes to Eloise Mumford as Kate Kavanagh. Ms. Mumford’s performance brought the right balance of joy and concern over Ana’s interest in Christian. The film also had terrific performances from Jennifer Ehle as Ana’s mother, Carla Wilkes, and Marcia Gay Harden as Grace Trevilian Grey.

Overall the film is a very successful adaptation of the Fifty Shades of Grey book. Fans of the source material may feel there were certain scenes that should have been part of the film, but not everything in a novel always translates to the screen. The only caveat to a rave review I would have is that there are times the editing structure of the film did not let us see the emotional impact of Christian’s decisions or reactions in certain scenes, but overall, it does not detract or diminish the power and beauty of the 50 Shades adaptation. The film is moving, exciting, sexy, funny, and extremely well done.


  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I'd heard the chemistry between the leads wasn't great, so I was worried.

  2. I have been concerned when they first announced these books would be turned into a movie. So I loved your thoughts on this one, sounds like they were careful in matching it with the chemistry and connection that is evident in the books.


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