Years ago, a friend was astounded when I admitted to not having read nor having a smidgen of interest in E.L. James’s literary phenomena; a trilogy that knocked the world on its posterior. So, over a week’s time, I gorged on all three volumes, concluding that James had a staggering imagination and had done her research in the tricks of titillation: Persia’s “The Perfumed Garden”, Japan’s “Pillow Book” and India’s “Kama Sutra”; proving there is nothing left to discover in the world sexual innovation, deviation or stimulation.
“50 Shades of Gray” portrays the first volume in the dominance/submission, bondage tale of twenty-one-year old “Anastasia Steel” (lithesome Dakota Johnson) and twenty-seven-year old billionaire “Christian Grey” (stunningly sculpted Jamie Dornan); Johnson captures the innocence and inquisitiveness of a maiden awakened to the “garden of earthly delights” by the experienced, captivating Grey, but becomes tiresome as the panting, lip-biting submissive; Dornan matures in the role of an emotionally scarred, closeted obsessive whose Hermes ties rarely embrace his neck. The redundancy of scenes in the “playroom’’ cannot capture the extreme luridness of the written word, and looses its redolence in repetition; surreptitiously I stole glances at my, mostly female, neighbors, embarrassment oozing into eventual, profound boredom.
Director/artist Sam Taylor-Johnson is faithful to James’s quixotic scenario; slick, provocatively filmed, but for all its intended heat, left me overwhelming, exhaustively cold.