“Fifty Shades of Grey” (the movie) is more of a Harlequin romance than erotica. All the essential ingredients of a Harley are there: plucky and/or shy heroine (yes, these qualities can co-exist in a Harlequin romance), and the flawed, tortured (wealthy) man she loves. Mr. Rochester without the depth of Mr. Rochester, Darcy without Darcy’s wit. A modern take on the charms of Thornfield Hall or Pemberley. Fifty Shades is like an extended music video with a bit Architectural Digest thrown in for good measure. A guilty pleasure. Funny, if not always intentionally. Jamie Dornan’s self-contained quality doesn’t work as well here as it does in “The Fall”. You can feel that his heart is not in it. Dakota Johnson is more convincing, mostly because she has nice comic timing. She reminds me of Maria Schneider in “Last Tango in Paris”. Brando put it all on the line in Last Tango, Jamie (yeah, I know he had better material to work with). He was past his beautiful phase, didn’t worry about showing vulnerability.
Christian Grey should also meet the other Mr. Grey — E. Edward Grey (“Secretary’). “Secretary” is a subversive take on what happens when a submissive (Maggie Gyllenhaal) finds her dominant (James Spader). My secretary gave the DVD to me years ago as birthday gift. Hmm.
I haven’t seen “The Duke of Burgundy”. Critics say that it is what Fifty Shades could have been.