Fifty Shades Darker (2017) – Review

Director: James Foley
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Eloise Mumford, Bella Heathcote, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Kim Basinger

There were many terrible things about the first movie in the Fifty Shades trilogy, but perhaps one of the most terrible was the realisation that there would in fact be another two movies to endure. The first film arrived approximately 5 months before I started this blog, so I didn’t have the opportunity to share my thoughts on it (although it did appear in my worst films of that year list), but let me start by saying that I absolutely loathed it, and its overwhelming popularity amongst a certain demographic annoyed me further. Deliberately released to coincide with the most romantic day of the year, Valentine’s Day, rubbed more salt into the wounds as it presented a horribly skewed version of “romance” in the form of a controlling billionaire who wooed a young and inexperienced woman with material possessions and introduced her to the darker side of relationships with some kinky BDSM action.

It is near impossible for me to review this film in my usual fashion, which for those who have been here before will know that normal procedure is to find the good things and the bad things in the movie before offering my verdict. I often feel as though I am failing as a reviewer if there is really nothing good or bad about a film, but I also pride myself on an honest and no nonsense approach, and I’m not about to find some scrap of redemption in a film as terrible as this one.

So yes, Fifty Shades Darker is a woeful, atrocious, horrible, dull, boring, terrible excuse of a film. The first one was rubbish, undoubtedly, but it was at least partially watchable even if it was for nothing more than morbid curiosity to find out just what that mysterious grey book was that everyone had been reading on the train. This second installment however is not just offensive and vapid in its character portrayal and the representation of the central relationship, but inconceivably dull and boring considering it is supposed to be this kinky movie based on BDSM. This is the most boring BDSM movie you’ll ever see; the initials in this case standing for Boring Dull Slow and Mind-numbing.

It is incontrovertibly contrived and predictable, with all the attempts at “drama” (those quotation marks are intentional) coming across as laughable and inconsequential. The acting is terrible and everyone concerned looks embarrassed and downright ashamed to be here. Dakota Johnson’s Anastacia continues to be just as annoying as she was in the first film, however this time she is even more simpering and pining than previously. Anyone who describes her “awakening” as being empowering should take a long hard look at themselves, Ana is no “strong independent woman who don’t need no man”, she is a weak, dependent woman who relies on her rich billionaire of a man to do everything for her, and all attempts to stand up to him are forgotten quicker than you can say “spank me”. For someone who states that sex can’t fix their problems, she forgets her problems real quick as soon as Christian gets her into bed. The speed at which she gives in to him is quite frankly insulting to womankind.

I have deep underlying problems with these films, the books, and the story, but painting this kind of creepy and controlling relationship in such a faux-romantic way is damaging. Christian Grey is not romantic, caring, or considerate, he is creepy, controlling, and vindictive, buying Ana’s attention by showering her with gifts and leading her to believe that he is changing for her, and she is the only one who has ever had this effect on him. OH PLEASE. I’ll say this again, this is not a healthy or loving relationship, it is emotional abuse, a relationship bought with material things. Christian controls and manipulates all aspects of Ana’s life; he buys some photographs of her from her friend’s gallery because he “doesn’t want anyone else gawking at her”, he buys the company that she works for to further exercise his dominance over all areas of her life, he refuses to let her go to New York on a work trip because he is jealous of her boss. This is not a relationship! This is not a two-sided thing! Christian tells Ana “you’re mine”, and she doesn’t respond with “you’re mine too”, she responds with “I’m yours”. Christian is not entirely to blame here, even though he is manipulative and controlling, Ana is moronic and naive, an insult to womankind, an insult to the strong, beautiful, and powerful women who refuse to let men put them down, and who are able to stand up for themselves, making their mark on the world by doing things for themselves.

Anyone who argues that Ana is empowered because she is somehow able to “change” Christian’s view on relationships needs to look a bit closer. Ana is manipulated by Christian from day one, her inexperience in relationships meaning she has a skewed demonstration of love right from the start. She might stand up against his desire for her to be a “submissive” but she still gives in so, so easily to him. He has a hold on her that is worrying, and something which is incredibly dangerous to perceive as being “love”.

There will be those who enjoy this film, I don’t doubt that, but this is coming from someone who is supposedly the target demographic for this film, and it is awful. Not just a terrible film, but a dangerous one, posing a warped view of love and romance that is forbidding rather than empowering. As a woman, we deserve a better film than this, we deserve better than being made out to be weak, both in wills and strength, we deserve better than being shown as people who are bought with compliments and “stuff” rather than being respected and valued, and we deserve better than being perceived as people who buy into this sort of crap.

I saw this movie so you don’t have to. Many people asked me why I was seeing this film, and I do feel the need to explain this. It is sadly the facts of life that the majority of reviewers working for high profile film websites and magazines are males, and the balance of reviews so far published for this film, have been through the male eye. Being a film which has such a terrible portrayal of women and relationships, it is important that there is balance, and as a woman I felt compelled to see it for myself. Many assume that these films are for women, but I just wanted to state that this is not a film for me, I hate everything it is putting across and it is important to voice this opinion. Aside from all of its terribly skewed views of love and romance, it is also a terrible, terrible film, with a terrible story, terrible dialogue and terrible acting. I saw this movie so that you absolutely do not have to, but if you do have to, or even if you want to, then I implore you to voice your opinions about it, because the assumption that all women love this tripe, needs to be shut down right now!    

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21 comments

  1. I’ve not watched/read them, 1. Because it’s not my type of book/movie regardless. 2. Because I heard that the relationship and the BDSM was abusive being portrayed as romantic, so any curiousity quickly vanished. Thanks for taking one for the team!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You definitely took one for the team Sarah but I also applaud you on the reasons for seeing it. I’ve no interest in the film anyway but judging from your review, it looks like this film serves as another example on Hollywood making films that simplify female characters and their intentions instead of celebrating their strengths and empowerment.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good review. I agree with you. This movie was boring and uninteresting and the sex scenes were pretty tamed compared to what’s out there in other movies or TV shows. Plus, dozens lines of awkward dialogue and laughable lines.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great thoughts on it! I never usually read a review before seeing a film, just not sure if I am going to see this one. Although with the amount of screenings it has on I might not really have much of a choice.

    Like

  5. Not trying to start an argument here but you seem to be angry at men for how the women are portrayed in this film when the books were written by a woman! Just saying… 😉

    I’ve not seen these films or read the books and have no intention, so I can’t comment either way on their quality or worth but please don’t lump ALL of us chaps into the same bracket – some us like our female characters to be strong and full of substance too. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • No thank you, I appreciate these comments. It certainly wasn’t my intention for it to come across in this way so apologies if it did. Quite frankly it is outrageous that a female writer penned such a terrible representation of a female character! It is a horrible and inaccurate representation of both males and females so yeah it sucks. And sorry again. Y’all are great!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hehe! No worries. That’s why I put the cheeky emojis in there! 😉

        Maybe the third film will see a reversal of character and the girl will – pardon the expression – come out on top instead, and all this wanton submission was just a ruse to get his wealth? 😛

        Liked by 2 people

  6. “The speed at which she gives in to him is quite frankly insulting to womankind.” THANK YOU SO MUCH for this review! I saw the film because I felt like I had to review it (all of my female friends were clamoring to see it and begged to know what I thought of it). I also couldn’t get over the way the movie tried to normalize (and even idealize!!) rape culture and a toxic, mentally unhealthy relationship. The scene where Christian’s past “submissive” came to his apartment made me feel physically ill. I just don’t get these movies and I have zero plans to read the books.

    Liked by 1 person

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