After being dubbed the mainstream movie featuring the most sex in a decade, it appears that the sexual exploits in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ have failed to inspire the critics.
A rash of reviews of the adaptation of EL James’s best-selling erotic novel – which stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan – emerged last night, with many complaining that there’s not enough sex and that the sex there is is somewhat unsatisfactory.
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It had previously been reported that there was 20 minutes of sex over a 100 minute run-time, but now it seems the sex in the movie takes up more like 15 minutes out of over two hours.
Meanwhile, the action on screen has been damned as ‘run-of-the-mill’ and ‘vanilla’, rather than the x-rated S&M that is detailed in the book.
The New York Daily News's Elizabeth Weitzman said there was 'nothing to shock' in the movie, adding: “Anyone hoping the movie would really push the S&M envelope may find Christian's tastefully shot toy room a little… vanilla.
“We see a whip here, a handcuff there, but nothing that would shock even newcomers to the series.”
Liza Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly said: “Nobody in the movie has visible genitals. Christian in particular seems to do a whole lot of stuff in the playroom with his shirt off but his pants on, which cannot be comfortable for such an active young man.
“But even more frustrating to voyeurs, nobody sweats, nobody strains, nobody loses control or even fakes losing control by simulating an orgasm.”
Mashable's Josh Dickey agrees, praising Kelly Marcel's script, but concluding: “There’s not nearly enough sex in it. That’s a shame, because Marcel performed nothing short of a miracle here, turning hapless, unreadable fan-fiction rubbish that somehow caught fire into a capable, slow-building script.”
Claudia Puig of USA Today said: “Those looking for hot, kinky sex will be disappointed. Fewer than 15 of the movie’s 125 minutes feature sex scenes.
“Discussion of contracts and objections over line items outweigh erotica. Even the graphic nudity grows numbing.’
In the UK, Jordan Hoffman in The Guardian says: “The sex scenes in Fifty Shades of Grey are numerous, lengthy and frank, but they aren’t smutty.
“Only occasionally does it dip into Red Shoe Diaries-territory. By and large, these key scenes really are there to advance the plot, and only the most buttoned-up prude will be scandalised.”
But while the sex on screen might not have quite lived up to expectations, the reviews in general are far from bad, with the movie currently riding a not-terrible 61% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Sheri Linden in the Hollywood Reporter said: “It’s a slow build to the smutty bits, and one that’s disappointingly devoid of tension.
“Even so, the movie is, by definition, a stronger proposition than the book because it strips away the oodles of cringe-inducing descriptions and internal monologue that tip the text heavily toward self-parody.”
Time Out New York's David Ehrlich added: “Substituting heartache for handcuffs, Fifty Shades is the rare studio romance in which the characters actually try to understand one another.
“As this is the first instalment of an epic trilogy, how much there is beneath the surface remains to be seen, but Taylor-Johnson seems genuinely interested in finding out. Fifty Shades may not make you come, but you’ll still be glad you went.”
Meanwhile, Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson said: “Fifty Shades of Grey is not the lame, hot-and-bothered fantasy romance many, including myself, thought it would be.
“It’s got wit and humour and a modest intelligence about human behaviour that, say, the Twilight movies never had.”
Dakota Johnson also came in for praise, the New York Daily News’s Weitzman adding: “Johnson is a true find: She’s so committed, she makes Ana’s every discovery - in or out of the bedroom – convincing.”
Image credits: Universal