Tenser, steamier, and altogether darker, the newest installment in Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, Fifty Shades Darker, will immerse you even further into the eccentrically beguiling world of Ms. Steele and her unconventionally impassioned suitor, perhaps in ways you wouldn’t expect.
Produced by Universal Pictures and Focus Features, Fifty Shades Darker is the film adaptation of the second novel in E.L. James’ infamously erotic romance trilogy, featuring a merge of the Twilight-style, girl-meets-extraordinary-boy love affair with the antics of sadomasochism. The two stars of the first film are Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, freshly popular and properly bred for a glittering return to the big screen under the direction of James Foley.
The film picks up where the last cryptically concluded, with a witty and altogether enchanting Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) painfully separated from her dreamy yet troubled ex-boyfriend, billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). While Anastasia begins her post-graduate life in her dream job at a literary publishing company under her foxy boss Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), she cannot seem to escape Christian’s many tokens of apology for their sexually violent last encounter or the memory of the brief but wistful time spent together.
The purchase of a series of portraits grandly bearing Anastasia’s face, photographed by her forever-in-the-friendzone admirer Jose (Victor Rasuk), by a mysterious buyer shocks her, but we know better. The suspense of a Christian Grey-less Fifty Shades at last concludes as he confronts Anastasia, begging for her presence in his life again.
While Anastasia of course is not able to resist the unignorable magnetism they posses for each other, she has some new conditions for Christian this time around the block—she needs equality rather than submission as well as more insight into why Christian is the unhinged dominant he is.
As the entirety of the film battles with achieving these two terms, several subplots involving arguably more unhinged individuals complicate the budding relationship.
Boss Jack turns out to be less of a “Jack” and more of an “ass”, with his gradually creepier disposition toward Anastasia venturing into non HR-approved territory, culminating in an attempt at assault that is handled with fury by a notoriously protective Christian.
Old guests from Christian’s shadowy past also emerge as threats to the sanity of Anastasia. A strangely despondent young girl Leila (Bella Heathcote), who was once a submissive to Christian, continually lurks in the background, finally revealing herself in a dangerous breakdown to Anastasia over her obsession with Christian. His original dominant who introduced him to the BDSM lifestyle Elena Lincoln (Kim Basinger) makes multiple appearances as well, intimidating Anastasia and constantly reminding her that Christian is incapable of a stable, real relationship.
Along with a helicopter conundrum and an ending replete with both fireworks and a smoking villain in the distance, Fifty Shades Darker amplifies the drama, the appeal, and the striking visuals of the Steele-Grey dynamic. More insight into the origins of Christian and his bizarre yearnings finally elevates the story and provides audiences with a clearer vantage point than the first film. While the picture obviously still encompasses all of the fiercely violent, yet awkward, sex scenes, these moments now seem slightly more reasonable given the context and intentions of this particular storyline.
Well, “storyline” isn’t exactly the correct term. Fifty Shades Darker doesn’t really follow any linear plot, only really providing a string of vignettes that, while entertaining, don’t flow appropriately from one to the other. This results in an audience constantly questioning whether or not the conclusion of one snippet is film’s ending, causing the actual closing to lack anticipation and a fully captivated reception.
What the film lacks in developed plot it compensates for in mostly convincing performances, stunning visuals, and hit-worthy music. Johnson is the ultimate standout, enacting believability in all she executes, even in the most absurd circumstances and settings, like the red room of sexual doom. Overviews of a dazzling Seattle and sunny boat trip accompanied by “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” (Zayn Malik ft. Taylor Swift) electrify the romantic tone and excite audiences for another awesome motion picture soundtrack.
This continuation of Fifty Shades ultimately accomplishes its goals of next-level sultry and danger, so if Valentine’s Day this year isn’t exactly turning out the way you hoped, head down to the local AMC with some friends to experience and, naturally, giggle at the intriguing obscenity that is Fifty Shades Darker.
Featured Image By Universal Pictures