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By popular demand: my review of Fifty Shades Darker. Warning: Spoilers, Dirty Stuff.
This is the second installment of the Fifty Shades of Grey series, with The Boy Billionaire Who Has Time for All Kinds of Bull[expletive] and The Girl Who Puts On Five Percent Too Much Lipstick. So, it’s no Empire Strikes Back. I’m putting this here because some people evidently thought this was worth reading for the sexy foodie sex stuff. They do eat a few salads and things, but it’s not like this is a food erotica movie. There is one food preparation scene. They go grocery shopping. They bring the food back to make dinner. He’s cutting up a bell pepper and she leans across him in a suggestive way a couple of times. Now if this were a movie from the ’40s, and we hadn’t already seen these two do a dozen weird, kinky things in the first installment, there might have been some energy, some sparks. But it’s just dull and dead.
Also, it’s weird how he cuts up the bell pepper. I wonder if this was a conscious choice on the part of Jamie Dornan, because he hacks it up so clumsily that I thought a cut-finger-blood-drinking scene was coming, but no, he gets through the bell pepper okay. Is he trying to depict The Billionaire as someone who doesn’t do little things like that for himself? I dunno. Then they do the sex and she wakes him up and says there’s nothing but cold stir-fry for breakfast. Which is stupid because they went grocery shopping and she totally could have gotten some eggs or something.
At one point he asks her to marry him, but she’s not so sure because he still seems kind of attached to all these crazy ex-lovers.
The movie is punctuated, like the first one, with their hasty sex attacks. Somehow this girl is just always ready in like 40-50 seconds, because if he took the time to actually warm her up — like they do in real porn movies — this thing would be either three hours or they would have to cut out all the character development, which would make it a porn movie, which it isn’t because there’s a lot of profound character development, and you don’t see The Bratwurst. Through these two movies, and I assume also in the third one, they’ve gone through, like in gymnastics and figure skating, The Compulsories. Though the arc is not consistent — there are toys and things in this one that are kind of a step back in terms of kinkiness to less-advanced stuff than what they did in the first one. More explicit than that I cannot be. Also, she’s still naïve about a lot of these machines and stuff, which even all the high school girls I hang out with on Facebook know at least a little bit about, because in these movies they don’t have Google. And everybody drives Audis. Apparently they’re the kinkiest cars.
This movie is a little darker, as the title implies. Two of Christian Grey’s former lovers come back to haunt him. One is a submissive of his who went off the deep end. She keeps popping up in Ana’s life and eventually shows up in her apartment with a gun. Christian and his driver Taylor disarm her in a ridiculously slow and mechanical scene. The other is the older woman who turned him onto the weird sex years ago. The dope on her (Kim Basinger, 9-1/2 Weeks, LOL) is that she was the dominant one and really, really hurt poor Christian. And there’s Anastasia’s jilted boss, who’s all obsessed with her. These add a little portentous drama, then are swept away, and then reappear. With no real rhyme or reason.
As in the first movie, the actors are trying really hard to make this crap work. Everything is beautifully lit, and composed, and the scenery and sets are magnificent. If only it were in another language with no subtitles.
Because all the dialogue here is on-the-nose. It feels like hours and hours of exposition. The only thing that keeps it moving is these jerky leaps from scene to scene. It’s kind of like a two-hour soap opera in that way. Except we’re not jumping between several intertwined stories, we just have to jump from masked ball to street scene to sex scene to sailboat scene to get these two to stop talking about things that no one ever talks about this way in real life. This rapidity becomes comical when he flies with his assistant in his helicopter from Seattle to Portland for a snap meeting and crashes in the forest near Mt. St. Helens on the way home. All of his family and friends are in his penthouse watching this on the news like an hour later, thinking he’s dead or something, and then they break into the news and he’s been found alive! “Hooray!” they say. Then he walks right out of the elevator! How did he get back so fast?! He has a cut on his head but that’s about it. Everyone cheers and they all leave him and Anastasia together alone to, well, you know.
She tells him yes to his proposal and they do it in his red room.
The next day he has a big birthday party, and everyone celebrates, and there are fireworks, and Anastasia’s bitter angry boss watches from across the lagoon as the fireworks go off. So I’m sure there will be plenty of plodding “drama” in the third one.