So there is some entertainment value in James Foley’s adaptation of E.L. James’ erotic novel, the second in her trilogy. Cannot speak for the book’s merits, but the film continues the no-yes-maybe-yes-no relationship saga between two boring, but pretty, people — naïve young thing Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and mega-millionaire and bondage enthusiast Christian (Jamie Dornan).
Now Ana has her dream job (we know because she says so twice) working at a Seattle publishing company. In short order, she gets sexually harassed at work; reunites with Christian; has a lot of not-very-erotic sex (the term “rutting” comes to mind); refuses to get her hair done by some mystery woman (Kim Basinger) from Christian’s past; learns to sail a boat; kicks her boss in the nuts (prompting Christian to buy the publishing house); attends a masquerade ball; gets a stalker; has a series of not-very-compelling arguments with Christian about agency; gets shot at; gets promoted at work, which is now owned by her controlling boyfriend; ponders a marriage proposal; learns Christian’s secret (spoiler alert: he’s a sadist who hates his mom); is OK with Christian being a sadist; has a freak-out about a possible death; and bites her lip a lot.
There are a lot of ingredients here for a kicky, soapy romp, but it’s important to convey how dull this film is. Add to that tedium the terrible dialogue, choppy plotting and lack of chemistry between the leads, and the real sadism is demanding that 50 Shades fans to sit through this.
That said, it is bad enough to enjoy as a trainwreck. For example, I enjoyed: watching Marcia Gay Harden slap Basinger’s character, in a scene straight out of Dynasty; the aerial footage of Mount St. Helens (make volcanoes great again); and noting Dornan’s impressive core strength in an exercising-at-home scene included only to showcase … well, his impressive core.