FIFTY SHADES DARKER
When Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) tries to entice a cautious Ana Steele (Dakota Johnson) back into his life, she demands a new arrangement before she will give him another chance. As the two begin to build trust and find stability, shadowy figures from Christian's past start to circle the couple, trying to quash their hopes for a future together.
Review by Louise Keller:
No rules, no punishments, no secrets is the promise of this titillating and voyeuristic sequel that penetrates deeper this time through the ongoing exploration of control, sex and submission. Like a holiday page-turner, the film is a big tease, sure to satisfy its predominantly female target audience who will lap up the elements. There is longing, gratification, romance and sex. And some ho-hum dialogue.
For the uninitiated, this is the adaptation of E.L. James' second novel in her sensational 'Mummy Porn' series in which Jamie Dornan's charismatic billionaire sadist Christian Grey spanks the shapely bottom of Dakota Johnson's Anastasia Steele into submission. Now things are ratcheted up a notch as Anna toys with what she terms 'kinky fuckery', becoming a willing participant in the push-pull relationship and constantly changing power play. A relationship? Or is it about ownership?
It's a handsome production that oozes glamour, using set pieces like the masked ball as an excuse to dazzle its audience with exquisite figure hugging gowns and fantasy lingerie. These momentarily adorn Johnson before Dornan undresses her. She spends most of the film in a state of undress. But not everything happens behind closed doors this time - black lace panties are removed in a restaurant, toes curl in a crowded lift and sex toys are used to tantalise in public places. The plot - if you can call it that - canvasses Christian's troubled past, his fantasies and urges.
The sex scenes are artfully shot, with raunchy sex in the bedroom, shower and Christian's locked playroom, where pain and pleasure jostle for prominence. We ogle at Christian's swank Seattle apartment, his luxury yacht, helicopter and fleet of cars. James Foley's direction is moody and dark. It rains much of the time. This is Seattle, after all. Foley allows the camera to linger and caress every curve of Johnson's naked body. Dornan's fitness, strength and control are also under the spotlight, keenly observed as Anna draws a road map on Christian's well-built torso with her lipstick - to indicate the no-go zones.
The plot points involving Anna's handsome new boss (Eric Johnson) with questionable intentions, Christian's disturbed former girlfriend (Bella Heathcote) and his 'Mrs Robinson' (Kim Basinger) are simply excuses to demonstrate jealousy, control and submission. Marcia Gay Harden is back in a thankless role as Christian's step mother.
Johnson is vulnerable and feminine - by far the film's greatest asset, while Dornan fits the bill as the man with everything, including 'complications'. The success of the film relies on the sexual tension and charisma between the two. Now we just have to wait for the last in the series. Perfect for a girls' night out. Or a date night, if the man is willing!
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FIFTY SHADES DARKER (MA15+)
CAST: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson
PRODUCER: Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, E.L. James, Marcus Viscidi
DIRECTOR: James Foley
SCRIPT: Niall Leonard (screenplay), E.L. James (based on the novel by)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Schwartzman
EDITOR: Richard Francis-Bruce
MUSIC: Danny Elfman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nelson Coates
RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 9, 2017