Movie re­view . . .


Fifty Shades Darker: Cer­tifi­cate 18, 118 mins. Uni­ver­sal Rat­ing: THE lit­er­ary phe­nom­e­non that proved to be un­be­liev­ably lu­cra­tive re­sulted in an in­evitable big-screen adap­ta­tion, with 2015’s Fifty Shades Of Grey. It was wooden, life­less and yet oddly com­pul­sive.

Now comes this cyn­i­cal money-maker of a se­quel, with equally wax­work per­for­mances and ter­ri­ble di­a­logue. ‘I will have din­ner with you… be­cause I’m hun­gry’ is about as so­phis­ti­cated as it gets. What could’ve been an in­ter­est­ing, darkly com­plex char­ac­ter study on hu­man de­sire in­stead just all feels so vac­u­ous – an­other missed op­por­tu­nity, favour­ing com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion over nu­ance.

It’s about as flat as one of those flutes of cham­pagne these shame­lessly os­ten­ta­tious char­ac­ters are for­ever drink­ing at end­less re­cep­tions. Set within a de­cid­edly de­lib­er­ate mi­lieu of func­tions, par­ties and sky­scrapers, it never ac­tu­ally shows any­body do­ing any real work; it’s a mys­tery how they earn all this money – all very glossy but ex­tremely im­plau­si­ble.

Even those sup­pos­edly ‘in­fa­mous scenes’ once again feel awk­wardly stagy and man­nered, with­out a mod­icum of the steam or spark gen­er­ated by oth­ers in a sim­i­larly adult canon – such as Ba­sic In­stinct or Fa­tal At­trac­tion.

The re­sult is that pro­ceed­ings of­ten feel un­in­ten­tion­ally funny for all the wrong rea­sons.

What works marginally bet­ter is the briefly ex­plored cat-and-mouse thriller el­e­ment: there’s an un­sta­ble ex, a he­li­copter crash and a solid enough cameo from a spiky Kim Basinger, but all of these are rather brushed over and could’ve been ex­plored fur­ther.

Jamie Dor­nan can be a good ac­tor (he was great in last year’s grip­ping World War II drama An­thro­poid), but he’s ut­terly stilted here, to­tally wasted on dull ma­te­rial for a card­board-cutout, hu­mour­less char­ac­ter.

De­spite the odd stronger scene and a con­tem­po­rary sound­track, as with its pre­de­ces­sor, it’s all ex­tremely un­in­volv­ing.

So, the rea­son for its im­mense pop­u­lar­ity – as well as the ques­tion of who ex­actly are the in­tended au­di­ence – are both conundrums which re­main per­plex­ing. I shall have to watch the third con­clud­ing chap­ter, if only to solve these mys­ter­ies and un­der­stand its ex­traor­di­nar­ily en­dur­ing ap­peal.

Fifty Shades Darker stars Dakota John­son as Anas­ta­sia Steele and Jamie Dor­nan as Chris­tian Grey

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