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