Film Review: ‘Fifty Shades Darker’
February 8, 2017 - Fifty Shades of Grey
“I was reading Austen and Brontë and no one ever totalled adult to that,” says Anastasia Steele of her regretful story nearby a commencement of “Fifty Shades Darker.” Had she usually been reading E.L. James, she competence have been reduction unhappy in life — nonetheless in her initial film outing, 2015’s slinky schlockbuster “Fifty Shades of Grey,” executive Sam Taylor-Johnson and screenwriter Kelly Marcel also aspired to a aloft standard. Smartly gutting James’s gelatinous purple poetry for something some-more brusque and witty, it was one of a good pleasing surprises in new studio moviemaking. So it’s maybe astray to strike James Foley’s serviceable, lip-glossed supplement merely for delivering what competence have pretty been approaching in a initial place: an expensively scented two-hour soapdown, interspersed with some light amorous frisking, all administered really many with a strange author’s sticky-fingered touch. Sure to make Grey during a Valentine’s Day box office, “Darker” does roughly zero to do a guarantee of a title, nonetheless it’s still diverting, sleekly styled and usually voluptuous adequate to dismay a few wintry horses.
With a brusque farewell as a conveyor doors clamped shut, finale a long, tortured regretful traffic on a chilliest of notes, “Fifty Shades of Grey” pulled off what competence have been one of a good complicated Hollywood endings — if not for a positive believe that a supplement was entrance down a dart to remove a wilful snap. The strange novel, for all a stylistic ineptitude, serve works improved as a self-contained account than as a franchise-starter: Once bashful Anastasia (Dakota Johnson), tested to her boundary by a code of possessive SM wielded by Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), resolves that she’s improved off as her possess woman, stability their intrigue entails doubling behind on a lot of good sense work.
But there’s income to be done and fans to be serviced, and so “Fifty Shades Darker” is here to — in a difference of Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” lonesome in Corinne Bailey Rae’s melodic greige tones over a opening credits — take us behind to a start. It’s been 3 weeks given Anastasia and Christian called off their arrangement (“relationship” is too lofty a tenure for a initial iteration), and apparently many soul-searching, uneasy sleeping and thinking pacing opposite marble floors has taken place in a interim. “I wish we back,” he tells her bluntly, rather surprisingly not cuing an angsty The Weeknd cover of a Jackson 5 strike on a film’s trigger-happy cocktail soundtrack. Does she feel likewise, though? Despite a daze of a unreal new pursuit as partner to dreamier edition residence editor Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), she does — with a dismal premonition that their settlement ensue with “no rules, no punishment and no some-more secrets.”
Needless to say, there wouldn’t be many of a film left if he respected these prerequisites and refitted a Red Room of Pain with some comfy ivory banquettes and a preference of Pottery Barn’s excellent chuck cushions. For all her progressing skittishness, it takes nonetheless one imagination cooking and some unselfish cunnilingus for Anastasia to acknowledge that she’s prepared to lapse to a Grey side. It’s not prolonged before he’s sanctioned popping vaginal beads inside her person, whisking her off to masked balls (not his own) and meaningful her to go on work trips with her smarmily hastily new trainer since “he wants what’s mine.”
If a strange film narrowly skated around their relationship’s misogynistic undercurrent by giving Anastasia a strong, searching, infrequently doubtful indicate of view, it’s distant some-more formidable here to establish what she wants, or what her before knowledge with Christian has done of her. Quite literally requesting to be spanked one minute, afterwards horrified during his aggressively widespread tendencies a next, she radically retraces her unpleasant arc of find from a initial film — usually with quick flashes of absentmindedness per his cruellest impulses. There’s positively something to be pronounced here about a ongoing compulsive function of masochists as good as sadists, nonetheless amid a lush montages of burrata-smooth flesh, industrial-strength slip and bruiseless manhandling, “Fifty Shades Darker” isn’t in a mood to contend it.
It’s not usually on screen, of course, that a new film has mislaid a predecessor’s delicate perspective, with Taylor-Johnson and Marcel both stepping down to make proceed for, respectively, achieved B-movie maestro Foley and screenwriter Niall Leonard — differently famous as Mr. E.L. James. Leonard permits his wife’s authorial voice to drip some-more floridly by to a finished film than Marcel did: All a novels’ speak of middle goddesses is mercifully still kept during bay, nonetheless many of a discourse here is pristine Harlequinese, with Anastasia and Christian’s exchanges utterly blank a initial film’s pert, witty zing. If Christian’s sister Mia (pop star Rita Ora, given a integrate of scenes this time and mouthily seizing them) righteously observes that he’s “the male with all nonetheless a clarity of humor,” it would seem that Anastasia has incited underneath his influence.
In Leonard’s defense, he’s steadily operative with (even) obtuse element than Marcel was. There’s small figure to “Darker’s” relaxed withdraw of a leads’ push-pull seduction, notwithstanding a resources of account corners: a aforementioned tragedy between Anastasia’s beloved and boss, some meaningful stalking from one of Christian’s former submissives (Bella Heathcote), attrition with a violent passionate instructor of his girl (a fine, spicy and sorely underworked Kim Basinger), not to discuss a tossed-in helicopter pile-up that leaves even fewer manifest outlines than a lovers’ Red Room antics. For all this activity, Anastasia and Christian simply aren’t given that many to do — a climactic regretful act has be running replayed in 3 opposite contexts, usually so a characters can widen their legs a bit.
And yet, for all a constructional and psychological deficiencies, it’s tough not to suffer “Fifty Shades Darker” on a possess lusciously singular terms. Rebounding from a joylessly pale genre fug of 2007’s base-born “Perfect Stranger,” Foley’s lapse to a large shade shows some of his fluffy category as a rabble stylist. He doesn’t proceed a abundant sex scenes, in particular, with utterly as many frail skill as Taylor-Johnson did, nonetheless with cinematographer John Schwartzman slathering on a satin finish by a bucketful, they some-more than sufficient as coffee-table titillation. If anything, a film is many charming outward of possibly a bedroom or a Red Room, when it succumbs to a perfect lifestyle porn of overly art-directed Venetian parties and gold Monique Lhuillier gowns. A sweepingly shot yachting method might be a shameless rehash of a initial film’s giddy drifting hijinks, nonetheless it’s overwhelming all a same, scored as it is to a tawny cocktail soundness of Taylor Swift and Zayn Malik’s “I Don’t Want to Live Forever” — initial cut among equals on a savvy credentials playlist that also includes Halsey, Ora and a entire Sia.
As for a stars, they laugh and bear it as best they can, that is to stay they valiantly don’t laugh many during all. So smashing and quick in a initial film, Johnson isn’t given even a tender element to make an homogeneous sense this time round, nonetheless maintains a beguilingly responsive, extraordinary shade participation even by Anastasia’s complicated shifts in consciousness. Dornan, sporting an additional cloak of stubble and, impossibly, even serve justification of gym hours than before, has even reduction to work with, nonetheless accepts his cultured obligations with good grace.
We caring not a lick for these pleasing people, nor for their destiny together, as teased in a lustrous mini-trailer for subsequent year’s “Fifty Shades Freed” median by a shutting credits. Yet to find yourself rooting for their kinship quite since they’re both so damn prohibited is to comprehend that “Fifty Shades Darker” has worked a shoal sorcery on you. “I was being regretful and afterwards we go and confuse me with your eccentric f—kery,” Anastasia chides Christian during one indicate — to that a assembly can usually interpretation that, with all due honour to her dreams of Austen and Brontë, he’s got a improved idea.