Friday, February 10
REVIEW: Fifty Shades Darker
Directed by James Foley
1 hour 58 minutes
From Universal Pictures
Marcia Gay Harden
Thank goodness we can all settle down now. The first sequel is in your local theater today. We have stopped the hyper-ventilating from the first one and dried ourselves off just in time to see Anastasia and Christian back together again. Isn't life grand? Ain't it the berries? I suppose the cat o' nine tails and the riding crops are still in the nightstand drawer. You might want to get them back out.
I am of the opinion that most sequels aren't worth my time but I will make an exception here. Make what you want of this statement but the truth is this one is no better or worse than the first one. Frankly, if I were to give rating stars for pure enjoyment, I would give this one three stars. I think Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson are hot together and their sexual energy made the ice in my drink melt.
The story is rather pedestrian, of course, but it's not likely that anyone was expecting Shakespeare. She left him at the elevator door as Fifty Shades of Grey ended and here, presumably just a few weeks later, he sends her flowers as she assumes a new position (on a job). When they meet up, she is reluctant to take up with him again but Christian is nothing if not persistent. I thought he wore her down a little too easily and felt the same as the story moves along and yet... and yet... if they don't get back together in a hurry, how can we get to the reasons why this is R-rated? Huh? Huh?
She makes it clear that she wants some changes in their relationship if it's to resume and he promises to do all she asks. Of course there must be some wrinkles or else their wouldn't be much of a story outside the bedroom. The better of the two plot points is the job Anastasia gets at a publishing company, her dream job, but it comes with a boss who comes on to her. That, of course, makes Christian go a little wacky but they have agreed they will talk things out more and forego the secrets. A more routine storyline is a stalker, one involving an ex-squeeze of Christian's who doesn't want to be an ex.
This film and the first are studies of seduction... not only Christian seducing Anastasia but the filmmakers seducing us, the audience. A criticism in my review of the first film is that it had too little sex. I mean, if a film is a great deal about sex, then it needs to show some. I can take it and you probably can too. Well, the good news is, there's more sex in this one. Forgive me for counting, but I think it was six pretty damned good sex scenes. My favorite was the one in the crowded elevator.
Christian certainly lives well and this audience member certainly lives well while watching him in his glitzy apartment (and I don't mean just the red room), his yacht, helicopter and masked ball.
Anastasia asked him to settle the hell down and he did so for this sequel. Worry not... he has not become dull and it would appear he is going to settle down even more for the next outing.
We may recall that on the first film the writer of the books (E.L. James) and the director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, were not the best of friends and neither is around this time. Interestingly, the writer of this screenplay is James' husband, Niall Leonard and the director, James Foley has directed some fine films, namely At Close Range, After Dark My Sweet and Fear.
I think the title is a bit misleading. Fifty Shades Lighter would have been more appropriate. Both lead characters have definitely lightened up, perhaps to someone's dismay. By no means is this a great movie or perhaps even a very good one. But it is a fun two hours. The next one, Fifty Shades Freed, is already in the can and scheduled for release next year.
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