The infamous FIFTY SHADES OF GREY has been released on video this week. It was better than I expected and, in my opinion, has an undeserved reputation in some quarters. Here’s my review:

I’m going to go against the tide and tell you that FIFTY SHADES OF GREY is a good movie. I agree with one reviewer who suggested that, if the movie was in French and had English subtitles, the critics would probably be raving about it. I don’t know why so many think this is a bad movie – maybe because they were expecting it to have as much sex in it as the books – it doesn’t. Fortunately, the director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, has stripped away the poor writing of the book and produced a film that is worthy of a viewing.

The dialogue between Christian (Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) is more intelligent and witty than the book. There is quite a good sense of humour portrayed by the two as they develop their relationship. Anastasia is intelligent, confident and in control of herself and the situation. In fact, Dakota Johnson is superb in her role giving us a nuanced performance with emotional depth. Jamie Dornan slowly develops his character as he is challenged by Anastasia resisting his attempts to control her while yearning for a normal romantic relationship. Anastasia’s character develops nicely over the course of the narrative. The soundtrack is good with contemporary songs supporting the story. The cinematography by Seamus McGarvey (The Avengers, Atonement) is excellent.

In my view, FIFTY SHADES can be seen to reflect much of what women experience in traditional marriages – particularly conservative religious marriages. The husband, as the head of the household, wants to control what goes on while women are told to submit to their husbands in order to find true happiness and freedom. The difference in the movie is that, unlike many conservative religious marriages, the woman can say no and leave the relationship easily. Seen from this perspective, FIFTY SHADES is actually a critique of this form of relationship. I’ll leave viewers to think further on this if they wish.

FIFTY SHADES is a smartly provocative  story with a stunning finale that leaves us hanging waiting for the next instalment. If the second episode does as good a job of stripping away the cringeworthy aspects of the books, it will be worth seeing where the story goes.