Film Review: Fifty Shades Darker


★★☆☆☆
In a scene towards the end of James Foley's Fifty Shades Darker, Kim Basinger and Marcia Gay Harden square up following a heated revelation. It's the best scene of the whole film and a reminder of all the wasted talent in this dull and laughable follow-up to Fifty Shades of Grey. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan spout out preposterous dialogue as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey respectively, a couple whose relationship is a case of one step forward, two steps back, most of the setbacks stemming from Christian's mommy issues.

Serious is the default tone this time around, which makes it all the more ridiculous. Ana, so charmingly out of her depth in the first film, is stripped of almost all forceful personality this time around, simply succumbing to Christian's apologies and control for whatever the cause for a disagreement to be dropped almost within an instant like, for example, a proposed trip to New York that's scrapped because Christian says so. It's not an ideal message to be sending to females of any age, particularly when you have a male lead who quite likes to be the authoritative voice in every situation.

This extends to the other females in the film, who all seem in some way, shape or form reliant on the man in their life, whether it's Kate with Christian's brother, or one of Christian's former submissive's with Christian himself - an unsettling stalker subplot that takes up a lot of the narrative. Basinger makes an appearance as someone important to the person Christian has become, but her handful of scenes don't add much in terms of back story, certainly nothing of weight that would incite a decent level of intrigue. There's simply nothing to the narrative that propels the main arc forward, or delves deeper into the psyche's of its leads to warrant its runtime. Even the sex scenes are more PG than 18 certificate, the red room and S&M tools mostly banished aside from a few quick shots and the use of a some stimulant balls that are placed in a certain orifice.

For a series of novels that prided themselves on being sexually "explicit" there's nothing hardcore about this sequel. Dornan is but a mere object of fantasy and more than definitely harder done by the material than Johnson. A side note: who knew that someone could do so much acting with their arms as Rita Ora demonstrates in her role as Mia, Christian's sister who's presence has been upped for no necessary reason whatsoever. Fifty Shades Darker isn't the right name for this film. Darkness doesn't come into it: just laughable dialogue ("I'm too dressed"), wasted talent and a frustrating romance with zero heat.

Jamie Neish | @JamieNeish

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