The film tries to mix hearts and flowers with spice, but ends up as a poor quality soap opera.
Fifty Shades Darker sets us back in the story of Christian and Anastasia but with more flowers and… clichés.
Christian (Jamie Dornan) tries to reconciliate with Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) after she decided to end their relationship. The master of control is ready to put his world upside down for the young lady but that will not be without trouble, as Ana is about to meet two important women from Christian’s past.
Fifty Shades Darker is actually much lighter than the previous film, and duller as well. Indeed, some scenes seem to come from a bad romantic sitcom which tries to incorporate (badly) some action into the plot. However, this last part is predominant in the book and could not have been avoided.
The film has no real rhythm which makes it look like a poorly drafted version of a romantic comedy intertwined with sex scenes that do not bring anything new the plot in contrast with the first film which succeeded in making those relevant to the actual story. Also, most of the important people were not given enough time on screen, while Grey’s boat was showed during a good two minutes for no real purpose. Indeed, it will never be as impressive as the helicopter in the first film.
The plot leaves no place for surprise or sentiment, in part because of the rhythm but also because of the lack of real issues. Although the previous movie could have been interesting as it was the story of two people trying to compromise along with all the drama it brings, this time it is depicted as being all too easy, so the story becomes highly unrealistic.
The final part of the film gives the impression that it’s been copied from a cheap soap opera. However it is highly representative of the book itself except that the film excluded the interesting part promoting the conspiracy plot against Christian Grey rather than exploring his personality, which would have made the movie a little more engaging and bearable.
In terms of the interpretation, Dakota Johnson is the most credible and sweet of the plot while Kim Basinger, who plays Elena Lincoln, only offers a poor inexpressive face in all her scenes. Jamie Dornan is, as previously, an acceptable Christian Grey and seems to enjoy more of his character. Unfortunately, Grey is not developed at all in the plot, appearing as a broken soul in need of redemption, as in most of saga for teenagers. Eric Johnson’s performance as Jack Hyde makes a good bad guy but unfortunately scared no one.
The third movie will certainly follow the cliché plot of this one, that is, the threat against Christian rather than making more complex personalities of main characters, which could have been explored more deeply in Fifty Shades Darker.
Fifty Shades Darker (2017), directed by James Foley, is distributed in the UK by Universal Pictures. Certificate 15.