Fifty Shades Darker

 

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Fifty Shades Dafter.

 
Fifty Shades Darker

Dakota Johnson

 

Watching other people having sex is like watching other people eat. If you’re full, it can be a disgusting spectacle; if you’re hungry, it can induce a note of envy. The coupling displayed in Sam Taylor-Wood’s 2015 adaptation of E.L. James’s publishing phenomenon was the least interesting bit. But then Ms Taylor-Wood (or Taylor-Johnson, as she calls herself now) is a better filmmaker than Ms James is a writer. The director James Foley, perhaps best known for the TV series House of Cards, is handed a bum assignment here – and hopefully a decent pay cheque. The sequel has none of the allure of the first date, just more excuses to get Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) trussed up. Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) turns up again in a predictably ostentatious manifestation when, at a photographic exhibition, he buys all the photographs of Anastasia. He wants back in, so to speak, and is willing to forego all the sadomasochism. He proposes they at least talk, albeit at a horrendously expensive restaurant. “OK, I’ll have dinner with you,” she concedes, “because I’m hungry.” She’s actually hungry for a lot more than caviar and oysters and so the film trots out the usual picturesque strolls through the Seattle streets, the odd pop accompaniment from Corinne Bailey Rae, Rita Ora and Sia, and various displays of Christian’s fabulous wealth and vanity.

 

Unfortunately, the first threat of a narrative appears immediately before the closing credits, which in turn are interrupted by a trailer for Fifty Shades Freed. So, Fifty Shades Darker is just one big tease, a bridge between the first film and the next, which will also be directed by Foley. Regrettably, the new film could hardly be more dull, largely because it all so implausible. In essence a glossy commercial for obsession, possession, desire and ben wa balls, it glides along between the odd sequence of nooky and the next of risible dialogue, while barely breaking a sweat to introduce anything new (except for the ben wa balls).

 

And what people speak like this? Anastasia, in the aisle of a supermarket: “When did you last go shopping?” Christian: “Houston. A week ago.” Anastasia: “What did you buy?” Christian: “An airline.” Worse, when they turn up at a masked ball, they walk in at the precise moment that the singer delivers the opening line to the Gershwins’ ‘They Can't Take That Away from Me’: "The way you wear your hat...” Christian Grey would seem to be a master of perfect timing, from the unleashing of fireworks in the night sky, to the supernatural precision of his designer stubble, to the orchestration of Anastasia’s umpteenth orgasm. You could not get more artificial.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Eloise Mumford, Bella Heathcote, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Victor Rasuk, Kim Basinger, Marcia Gay Harden, Bruce Altman, Fay Masterson, Ashleigh LaThrop.

 

Dir James Foley, Pro Michael De Luca, E.L. James, Dana Brunetti and Marcus Viscidi, Screenplay Niall Leonard, Ph John Schwartzman, Pro Des Nelson Coates, Ed Richard Francis-Bruce, Music Danny Elfman, Costumes Shay Cunliffe.

 

Michael De Luca Productions-Universal Pictures.

117 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 10 February 2017. Cert. 18.