Sunday, February 22, 2015
Fifty Shades of Grey ★
"Fifty Shades of Grey" is a picture that not only tests my moral judgement as a critic--and as a human being for that matter--but it seems to be the quintessential temptation to lure me into breaking my golden rule of thumb. The foundation of my career in film criticism is based on the conviction that the subject matter of a film is somewhat irrelevant, as the structure enshrouding it should be the focal point.
However, it is not the structure of "Fifty Shades of Grey" that perturbs me, but its content, which is essentially a depraved reflection of modern society and our progression to a mindset dominated by primitive sensual instinct; it is a depiction of everything that is wrong with our world today.
Anastasia Steele, a highly intelligent college senior, is conducting an interview for her school's paper. The interviewee, Christian Grey, is the stereotypical billionaire playboy and a man who does not settle for anything less than what he desires, which in this particular instance, seems to be our young protagonist. The two individuals slowly form what can be deemed a "normal" relationship and then the film slips into its unfortunate theme of emotional effect, which I'm sure worked wonders on its target audience.
The most prominent issue here is the characters and the lack of plausibility and depth that they can provide. From an objective standpoint, Anastasia would seem to be a character brimming with possibilities and potential. I mean, here is a young woman on the edge of a self-dignified abyss, as she toils with the idea of shunning her pride in order to indulge in a realm of insatiable sexual desires as a means to achieve the end of her dream man. (In fact, there is a written contract that actually symbolizes how much self-respect she is willing to give up.)
Yet, as the internal conflict truly seems rational, her attraction to this newfound beau does not; any self-respecting literature major, who partakes in influences such as Thomas Hardy, would never be attracted to a man of this stature. You may call it irony, but I call it hogwash.
Mr. Grey consists of the more subtle inconceivabilities, as it is hardly believable that a rich entrepreneur and businessman of this worth would be involved with a college student, let alone have time to wallow in human indecency at every moment's turn. An individual of this value must work to sustain his lifestyle, yet we never see this take place, unless, of course, you consider a few minutes at a laptop the extent of a hard day's labor.
Although the technique of name typing is employed in the name of "Grey," which evokes a sense of mystery and intrigue, there has to be something tangible for the audience to feed on. Naturally, we discover the basis for his raw and boundless pining for pleasure, but by the film's end, there is no way to measure the conflict's effect on his character (blatantly in an effort to impart a "cliffhanger," which will inevitably lead to the sequel), and this is a problem. If the intention here was to craft an allegory, in which each character and event represent some mass identity of human nature, then it would be irrevocably brilliant, yet there would still be the complication of providing substance to the literal aspect of the personas.
There are several sexually induced scenes, which actually imply more than they show. Additionally, twenty-first century communication, such as e-mails and text messages, are utilized to convey a character's emotions in a particular instance and to impel the plot forward; an integration in today's cinema industry that I direly wish was eradicated. Lastly, the picture relies heavily on its campy dialogue and actions, which can pretty much summarize the film altogether--as a joke with no punch line.
What's worse, is the climax, which becomes forced and rather rushed, and, to be frank, makes little sense. There is so little conviction in this scene that it arguably unravels everything the story has worked to become up until this point, which if it were true in its design, would be a confrontation of morals.
This picture is a product driven solely by its romanticized notions of adolescent girl fantasies, clichés, and knight in armor-esque wishes. (What young woman wouldn't want to be whisked away in a private helicopter, and spoiled with unimaginable material objects?) These parallel man's requirements to be in control, to nurture, and to lust for a fertile partner. However intricate this view into humanity may seem, it is nothing more than a ploy to cash in on the sadistic realm of modern America's sexual fetishes. And this is troubling.
Some may say, "Hey, it's just a movie," yet there is a bigger issue here. Profiting off of man's degradation is one thing, but we need to acknowledge this as a worry, not as entertainment. There is a part of me that feels that this picture could have been keenly astute in its incentives if crafted for a Utilitarian purpose. It bears a slight resemblance to Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut," although it could never attain that level of intellectual thought even if it tried. I will most likely come back to this film as evidence, which only proves that no matter how immoral it may be, it is significant, even though it should be anything but.