Fifty Shades Darker (2017) provides plenty of pain but very little pleasure.
Soulless, mechanical and delivered with a sense of resigned obligation second only to the “Divergent” franchise, “Fifty Shades Darker” skulks into cinemas with all the romance and fantasy of a discarded Mills & Boon paperback fished out of a sewer.
Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) is living her life when Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) returns to control and manipulate it in a series of creepy yet bafflingly successful seduction stunts.
With the axing of the previous director and screenwriter, ‘author’ E L James cements her control over the film franchise and is finally able to let her full talent shine, in the same way a turd does after it’s been polished.
The screenplay, ‘written’ by James’ husband, is excruciatingly bad, indicating his scope for adapting or changing the source material was severely curtailed by his matrimonial obligations. E L James’ ineptitude infuses every single frame and every single word uttered in this movie. The direction is ugly and sluggishly static except for a bizarre sequence where James Foley decides to homage Duran Duran’s “Rio” music video.
Jamie Dornan does his best to smoulder but finds himself mostly guttering thanks to the wet blanket effect of Dakota Johnson’s insipid and obtuse Anastasia Steele, giving the arbitrary and disjointed scenes on screen the erotic frisson of cleaning out a diarrhetic cat’s litter tray.
The first “Fifty Shades” film may have disappointed in its blandness but the only darkness on offer here in its ‘edgier’ sequel “Fifty Shades Darker” is the inevitable tarnishing of your soul for having watched it.