Pilbara News - - Lifestyle - Vanessa Wil­liams

50 Shades Darker, Rated MA15+ Star­ring Dakota John­son, Jamie Dor­nan, Kim Basinger, Bella Heath­cote Directed by James Fo­ley

The verdict is in: Fifty Shades Darker is as cheesy as its pre­de­ces­sor, at least ac­cord­ing to a throng of unim­pressed crit­ics.

Given the mixed re­cep­tion for the first film, it’s no sur­prise that the sec­ond instalment of au­thor E.L. James’ best­selling erotic tril­ogy has gar­nered far-from-glow­ing re­views from crit­ics whose dis­taste for the film seems to mir­ror the out­cry from pro­test­ers claim­ing the fran­chise ro­man­ti­cises do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Hav­ing read the books, which I’m sens­ing the least-impressed of crit­ics haven’t, I can say it’s not di­rec­tor James Fo­ley who’s at fault when it comes to the film’s cheese fac­tor.

Fo­ley, who takes over from Sam Taylor-John­son to di­rect the fi­nal two in­stal­ments in the fran­chise, has the dif­fi­cult task of turn­ing James’ painfully writ­ten sap-fest into a movie that is bear­able.

It should be noted that the story it­self is cringe-wor­thy; the gushy, sappy lines ex­changed be­tween James’ pro­tag­o­nists Anas­ta­sia Steele (Dakota John­son) and Chris­tian Grey (Jamie Dor­nan) are bound to in­duce more eye-rolling than swoon­ing.

Hav­ing ma­tured from the wide-eyed vir­gin in the first film, John­son’s Ana lays down the law upon agree­ing to rec­on­cile with Grey, hav­ing ear­lier fled from the sadis­tic billionaire in the af­ter­shock of his overzeal­ous spank­ing.

Chris­tian ac­cepts Ana’s terms of “no rules, no pun­ish­ments and no more se­crets” and pledges to meet her ex­pec­ta­tions of a more “vanilla re­la­tion­ship”.

As the cou­ple fall back into a cloud of lust, sex and ro­mance, they are un­know­ingly stalked by Grey’s jilted ex-lover Leila Wil­liams (Bella Heath­cote).

Adding an­other layer of in­ten­sity to Ana’s world is her boss Jack Hyde (Eric John­son) who at­tempts to woo her with his creepy, un­in­vited ad­vances, while a botoxed Kim Basinger makes her highly an­tic­i­pated de­but as the elusive Elena Lin­coln, aka Mrs Robin­son, who is quick to un­leash her dis­ap­proval of Ana.

The sce­nar­ios that un­ravel with Jack, Elena and Leila take the film into darker ter­ri­tory, with Fo­ley throw­ing in el­e­ments of a thriller amid the soppy ro­mance drama.

As far as per­for­mances go, John­son and Dor­nan seem to have found their stride, tread­ing be­yond the awk­ward­ness that was pro­jected in the first film as they try to nav­i­gate the graphic, sex­ual na­ture of the books.

While it’s hard not to gawk at Dor­nan’s chis­elled physique, it’s John­son who adds an­other di­men­sion to Ana, a char­ac­ter who, in the books, is a frus­trat­ingly emo­tional ball of mess. Yes, the film is cheesy. Yes, the char­ac­ters are melo­dra­matic. Yes, there’s a lot of sex. But these are the el­e­ments that un­der­pin the world cre­ated by James, which Fo­ley man­ages to de­liver with clever pre­ci­sion.

It’s not di­rec­tor James Fo­ley who’s at fault when it comes to the film’s cheese fac­tor.

Moon­rise Cin­ema Kar­ratha is host­ing a dou­ble screen­ing of Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker on Satur­day, March 11, from 7pm. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit moon­risecin­

Jamie Dor­nan and Dakota John­son re­turn in sequel Fifty Shades Darker.

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