Film Review

Fifty Shades Darker

No more rules. No more secrets. No good script.

Fifty Shades is back!

The punch line to every sex joke since 2011 has now produced its second movie in the form of Fifty Shades Darker the much anticipated sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey.

I wouldn’t call myself a fan of the novels. Or the films. Or Twilight.

The romance and bad writing never really appealed to me. However since a close friend of mine worships the novels and practically dragged me to the first film, I became one of Mr Grey’s reluctant participants in the kinky world of FSOG. And after my first session in the proverbial red room, my reaction was bittersweet. Truth is despite the global hate FSOG receives, the first film wasn’t that bad. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are decent actors who look great, not to mention the film was beautifully shot. Its greatest achievement however was the fantastic soundtrack which perfectly captured the seductive themes of the movie and featured stellar artists such as Sia, The Weekend and Vaults. A major let-down for the film was awful dialogue and awkward acting. Not to mention the terrible lack of chemistry between the two leads that made me wonder what the HELL Valentines couples in the audience got out of it.

Funnily enough these are precisely the problems that plagued the Twilight films. Nice to look at, great soundtrack but terrible acting and dialogue.

Have things changed? Eh…slightly.

The plot leaves off some time after the first movie. After Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) break up, Ana seems to have moved on and manages to land a decent job at a publishing house. However the two lovers can’t seem to shake each other off and Christian skulks out of the shadows again to win Ana back. However can Christian resist the urge to partake in his BDSM activities which scared Ana off so much? Can Ana truly get Christian to open up and give her the love she so craves? Meanwhile we get glimpses into Christian’s past that drives the plot of the movie. Christian’s former lover Mrs Robinson (Kim Basinger) who introduced him to the taboo world of BDSM, a former submissive Leila (Bella Heathcote) who seems to be out for Ana’s blood and finally Ana’s creepy boss Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson) who develops an unwanted crush on her.

The film can be summed up once again as bittersweet.

Like its predecessor, it once again is nice to look at, nice to listen to but grossly hollow inside. The plot is the biggest flaw as it does not seem to go anywhere. From the trailer and previews we believe that the biggest conflicts in the film will be Mrs Robinson, Christian’s ex sub and Ana’s pervy boss. Sadly these plot points seem to disappear as quickly as they appear. There is no real build up to any of them and no real resolution, we are promised a deeper look into Christian’s past but the film holds back big time. Instead of following the basic rollercoaster formula of crisis, climax and resolution, the crises are barely there and nothing dramatic really happens. There is a crucial scene (involving a life or death situation) that comes literally out of nowhere and resolves itself out of nowhere. It’s like the director is ticking off a checklist of key scenes from the novel without giving them proper build up or context. Like FSOG the formula seems to run in the same way:

Christian tries to control Ana

Ana says no

Steamy sex scene with matching soundtrack

Back to the plot
Kim Basinger as Mrs. Robinson

(SPOILER!) To illustrate the crappy plot further, Mrs. Robinson only makes a few shady appearances throughout the film as the bitchy MILF taunting Ana with the formidable line “You can’t change him…” I am paraphrasing but the gist is “He loves me, not you bitch, don’t mess with Kim Basinger”. We don’t get any idea of who she is and what exactly she did to Christian, no details of their relationship or even a long enough conversation to develop her character. She is practically there so readers of the novel can point and excitedly say “Its Mrs. Robinson!” (SPOILER!)

But hey, who needs a decent plot when we can make room for Christian and Ana’s sex sessions?

Which brings us to the next point, the sex scenes are much better. Purely because Christian is given further development and moves on from the mysterious sadist he was. There is FINALLY genuine chemistry between the two characters making the love scenes much more bearable. By the way, apologies to the BDSM enthusiasts out there because there is far little BDSM in this film compared to the first. The first film was about sex. This film is about love. There is just enough freaky kink to excite audience members but we are moving into the serious part of Christian and Ana’s relationship. Ana is no longer just another sub, she might be the one…gasp! It’s a message the film insists on ramming into your face “Christian is changing…”


Sadly another huge let down is the terrible dialogue that seems to have ingrained itself into the script despite the change of director. Some of the lines and delivery are downright cheesy and cringe worthy to listen to. Its soppy romantic novel dialogue that I have a feeling E.L. James probably wanted kept in the film, this stems from reports of her having disputes with the FSOG director over wanting to keep the dialogue EXACTLY like the novel’s. And considering how shitty the writing was in the books, it is equally shitty in the films. Lord, how painful it was to hear Ana recite that overdramatic dialogue in her whiny, breathy voice.

How did Dornan keep a straight face?
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan

Johnson and Dornan are still great in the film, although their performances are hampered by the awkward dialogue you can tell they are giving it their all. They look amazing, Johnson is a beauty in the film and Dornan shows enough of his buff physique to excite female audience members. I can’t help but feel they are fighting to break out of the stilted acting they are forced to portray and want to give a better show. Thankfully Dornan has The Fall and Johnson has enough new roles to show she can skilfully act.

The soundtrack is great but not as amazing as its predecessor. Songs such as Zayn Malik and Taylor Swift’s ‘I Don’t Wanna Live Forever’ and ‘One Woman Man’ by John Legend are much more upbeat matching the tone of the film. FSOG was all about mystery and seduction. FSD is all about letting your guard down and love in. Unfortunately you can’t beat the excellent soundtrack of the first movie with its haunting lyrics and sultry air. Sia’s ‘Salted Wounds’ is still a beautiful tune that never leaves your ears.

There is also a shit load of product placement that jumps out at a screen, but hey, big movies attract big advertisers.

Overall the film is not bad. What holds it back is the same insufferable dialogue, stilted acting and thin plot. What makes it great are the lead actors’ effort, beautiful shooting and decent soundtrack. These movies are purely for the fans to see their beloved novel brought to life, not for general audience members who want to see a well-made erotic film. You won’t miss out watching it but you won’t miss out skipping it either. It’s a harmless film.

FYI, there is a mid-credits scene that gives a brief preview for the third film Fifty Shades Freed, so fans stay seated!



From as far back as I can remember I have always loved film. It’s a brilliant and entertaining medium with fascinating characters, incredible settings and a chance to escape the banality of life. However as an adult I can now fully appreciate film as an art that can teach us so much about the cultural, social and historical context of their time. But they are also just so much fun to watch! On this blog you will find film reviews and my thoughts on film. Join me in my journey through the pictures.

2 comments on “Fifty Shades Darker

  1. I don’t get the love that people have for these books (a really good friend of mine adores them, and it’s utterly against everything I know about her), and I haven’t seen a positive review of either movie until yours! However, I really enjoyed what you wrote, as it showed balance and a desire to point out the positives. Now, if any of your readers really want to see a movie that explores BDSM in a classy (non explicit) and actually rather sweet way, see if you can find the Japanese movie “Nana et Kaoru”. It really explains the concepts of control and submission without the need for lurid sex scenes. There’s a sequel too, but I have not seen that

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would definitely watch the film you mentioned! Although I hate the novels purely due to bad writing, the movies get too much of a bad rap. Was happy to note Mark Kermode actually agrees and said FSOG was a decent film.


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