Finally dumping Christian (Irishman Jamie Dornan, who fights like crazy to maintain his American accent), Ana (Dakota Johnson) accepts a position as an assistant to book publisher Jack (Eric Johnson), who has designs on his new hire. Begging for a second chance, Christian agrees to a “vanilla” relationship with Ana, with the pair reigniting their passion with more traditional bouts of sex and little flare ups of jealousy. Ana soon grows troubled by Christian’s comfort with ex-lover Elena (Kim Basinger), and she’s harassed by Leila (Bella Heathcote), one of Christian’s former “subs” who doesn’t take kindly to rejection. Dealing with employment woes and her place in Christian’s suffocating life, Ana begins to learn more about her boyfriend’s secretive past, pinpointing the origin of his extreme red room tastes and fear of abandonment.
Review Fifty Shades Darker
Review Fifty Shades Darker
It’s hard to argue with a phenomenon, but 2015’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” was a terrible film. Based on the best seller by E.L. James, the picture hoped to bring viewers into a realm of BDSM via a romantic entanglement between two damaged souls, playing up the kink factor to entice those looking for a little moviegoing spice. The feature was an enormous box office success, powered primarily by curiosity, with actual creative achievements few and far between, including a troubling idea to remove any sort of ending that could provide closure to the saga. “Fifty Shades Darker” is the follow-up, and it does offer something of a climax.
Multiple ones if close attention is paid. However, a story isn’t invited to this round of pained lives and saucy bedroom antics, generating a decidedly limp viewing experience as bland characters work out easily solvable problems, with the occasional bout of furious intercourse interrupting what’s basically a staring contest between two creeps.“Fifty Shades Darker” isn’t about anything, but the closest the picture comes to a point is found with Christian. A moment from his abusive past is detailed in the prologue, setting up the character’s journey of submission around Ana, whom he views as an equal, not a toy.
The screenplay by Niall Leonard teases actual horror with Christian’s hesitant confessions, explaining burn marks on his chest to Ana, also sharing his addiction to sadism, chasing a primal need to find women like his mother and beat them through sex play. Christian is a seriously damaged person, and a more accurate “Fifty Shades Darker” would begin and end with the billionaire in therapy, or worse, prison. However, such a direct confrontation of mental illness would tarnish the gooey Valentine’s Day treat James has concocted, viewing this relationship as something sweet and beneficial for the pair, who find true love in shared confusion.
This false sense of sincerity doesn’t carry “Fifty Shades Darker” very far. Director James Foley (who guided “Glengarry Glen Ross,” but also “Fear,” “The Corruptor”, and “Perfect Stranger”) is new to the franchise, and he treats it with autopilot interest, going along with a concept of Christian as an ideal boyfriend, with his looks, wealth, and obsessively controlling ways meant to be stimulating to the movie’s target demographic. The writing even downplays his psychological fracture, turning Christian into a puppy in need of cuddles and the occasional boop, which is odd when, as previously mentioned, he admits to beating up women to help process his tortured childhood.
The production dances around such incredible ugliness, preferring to showcase Christian as a suave man who enjoys slipping steel balls into his lover’s vagina, sends vaguely threatening text messages without provocation, digitally pleasures his partner in a full elevator, and performs oral sex on Ana whenever he can. He’s the perfect guy, except for the part where he admits to beating up women to help process his tortured childhood. “Fifty Shades Darker” isn’t about to challenge Christian’s dreamboat status, keeping Dornan naked, brooding, and exercising, and there’s a defined uptick in Skinemax-style sexual encounters, spinning Christian and Ana around in a loopy sense of ecstasy as iffy R&B blares on the soundtrack and Dornan weirdly keeps his pants on for most of the couplings.