Hurrah – it’s the Funny Farm’s return to the movie adaptations of EL James’s super-unsexy trilogy (I’ve never read more than one page – as the grammar alone was painful enough!).
Before the screening there’s a warning that this movie contains “Strong Sex” (I prefer the weak sort at my age), despite the film being relatively tame (presumably it’s called “Fifty Shades Darker” in a nod to the Bristol Stool Scale because there’s slightly more bumming in it). A more appropriate warning for cinema-goers would be that this film contains “Stupid Dialogue” or “Literally NO DRAMATIC tension whatsoever” (even when there’s a hint of a helicopter crash, rather than grip the edge of our seats, me and my comrades merrily chortle “Oh no! His choppers going down!”) , but most of the audience (apart from the poor two guys who gamely allowed themselves to be dragged out by their missuses) clearly know this and just want to know if you see his willy.
We start with a silly backstory shot of young Christian hiding from a shouty man who holds a cigaratte ominously. Because you’re not allowed to explore the niceties (or nasties) of BDSM without having been abused as a child.
Anastasia (Dakota Johnson kooking it up endearingly again) is still biting her lip and wobbling around like a toddler, even though she’s somehow (as a recent graduate in a humanities subject) acquired an amazing flat without an annoying slutty friend in – AND landed a “Dream Job” working for sex-pest publishing editor Jack (a Frank Sinatra lookalike with a tiny button nose), attracting envious looks from her fellow assistant Hannah the world’s slowest pretend typist, and getting gold stars from the older hacky faced improbable HR woman (all older women in the EL James world are weird and hacky faced). Clearly she’s moved on from her stalky spanky ex, as demonstrated by a credits scene where she tries to bin a massive bunch of flowers from him (with a good luck note on a business card – the romance!) in a tiny bin!
The bin is smaller than her head. Really.
How come this clueless, spatially unaware woman is employed anywhere? Well not that clueless – as at least she’s given psycho Grey the heave-ho.
But wait. Ana goes to cute pal José’s incredibly sinister photography exhibition full of close-ups of Ana wearing a big jumper (in the world of EL James EVERY man is a stalky weirdo), which a mysterious stranger snaps up. Mysterious my butt plug – Christian’s back in town (Jamie Dornan texting in his performance) wearing his strange baby-with-wind smile that passes for enigmatic facial expression.
Definitely wind. Just give him a pat on the back love. Oh sorry you’re not allowed to.
And it’s not long before Ana’s joined him for dinner to “reconsider the terms” (shudder) of their relationship, and is agreeing to be his proper girlfriend as long as it’s all vanilla (which she demonstrates by dragging the poor sod round the supermarket for Vanilla ice-cream) and cuddly with none of that nasty “ouch my bottom” spanky shenanigans.
Of course it doesn’t take long until she’s yelling “SPANK ME! SPANK ME MORE!”, despite having witnessed his cack-handed ineptitude whilst chopping a bell (snigger) pepper (Literally every one in the cinema is hoping he will chop a cucumber at this point, but sadly the opportunity is missed and they just have a soft focus gaspy shag instead whereupon Christian bizarrely insists on transferring £24,000 into Ana’s bank account for her missing time off work and does some blatant product placement by buying her an iphone and matching macbook – all the better to stalk her on). But there’s a shadow threatening their new found bliss, and where Sam and Frodo have Gollum, Ana finds she has acquired a non-male stalker for a change in the shape of what appears to be a 12 year old skaghead in a tatty parka with bandages round her wrists. Who can it be?
Woohoo! Ana’s sex pest boss invites her to a business trip to New York (much to Christian’s chagrin) and forces her to socialise after work because he has no friends. Ana’s just about to down the pint he’s bought her when Christian shows up all possessive, buys the company in a not at all control-freaky move and whisks Ana off for a fingering to orgasm in a lift (I keep hoping for a fart noise to add a touch of class to proceedings) followed by what she describes (appallingly for someone with a literature degree) as “Kinky Fuckery”. He reveals that her stalker in a parka is is his ex “sub” Leila who, after he dumped her for wanting human interaction (warning bells much) got married only for her husband to cark it and her to have a mental breakdown for being not only the unluckiest bitch in christendom but for having the worst most reductive role in a film for quite some time.
Christian invites Ana to a charity ball at his hacky faced mums and drags her to the hairdressers to sort herself the fuck out – but who’s this hacky faced older woman running the salon?
Why it’s Elena, the “Mrs Robinson” who seduced Christian into a life of sex devices by sticking remote controls and bicycle pumps up his arse at a tender age or something and is now his business partner. Played by Kim Basinger in what I’d like to think is a nod to 1980s emotionally retarded shagfest from back when Mickey Rourke had a face “9 and a half weeks”, Elena spends most of the film doing sideways looks and wobbling any facial features the botox will allow to move. Ana rightly flounces off at Christian’s complete and utter tactlessness and he has to hire a gay Latino coiffure and buy her drawerloads of designer undies and rails of posh frocks to get back in her good books enough to convince her to go to the ball, put on a sexy basque and let him shove silvery love eggs up her mimsy (“They’re not going up my butt” she worries sensibly, “They’re not for your butt” he explains reassuringly).
Clanking metallically around the ball like a human pool table, Ana’s told all about Christian’s bad boy past by annoying sister Rita Ora before she bids all her £24,000 whore money on the charity auction. Christian gets all hot and drags he to his scarily preserved childhood bedroom where he whips out her balls and off her dress (for some reason her basque has disappeared up her arse crack at this point) and they do yet more soft focus gaspy sex. Ana finds a picture of what could be another ex girlfriend but turns out to be his crackhead suicide mom. Oh oh! Elena shows up, face akimbo and warns her to split up with Christian. There’s yet another flounce – this time back to Christian’s where Ana’s car has been vandalised and rather than deal with it normally Christian insists she comes for a few days sailing montage on his big, shiny yacht. Ana’s still stroppy that Christian won’t let her touch him, so he uses her lipstick to thoughtfully draw out his boundaries which seem to just be his chest – which has also suddenly been pock marked with what look like ages old cigarette burns that weren’t there in the previous film. Ana of course doesn’t notice these, so ludicrously grateful is she that his hairy man eggs aren’t in the no-go zone.
Thanks to Christian being an utter arsehat Ana has to cry off her trip to New York with SexPest boss who promptly tries to lock her in the office and sex her up until Ana punches him in the face and kicks him in the nads (best bit of the film) and runs out into the waiting arms of Christian, who promptly sacks the SexPest. Now who will represent “New Fiction” at the publishers meeting. Why Ana of course, and of course we need to see the entirety of the incredibly dull meeting in order to understand how much she is actually supposed to know her shit. She impresses the kindly greying Lord High Poo Bar of the publishers so much with her ability to have breasts and express opinions about new fiction choices that he gives her the SexPests old job allowing her to recreate an entire scene from “Working Girl” (another 1980s film which Dakota’s mum Melanie Griffiths starred in) with Hannah the slow pretend typist assistant.
Somehow Ana has got over her misgivings about Christian completely controlling her life and agrees to move in with him, popping back to her apartment for a toothpaste and her mooncup or something. Typically Leila the Stalker in the Parka pops up behind Ana with a gun and a crazy twitch, but fortunately she’s the worst shot ever, giving time for Christian to rescue Ana with his domination skills. As Leila drops to the floor muttering “Master” and eyeing up Christian’s crotch like it’s her precious, Ana realises her boyfriend might not be such a catch after all and rushes off into Seattle to sulk about in a duffel coat.
When she returns Christian is incandescent and reveals that he isn’t just a dominant, but a sadist who wants to punish women who look like his dead crack whore mom, including Ana. He explains that he can only be happy causing women pain by doing terrible awful things like leaving dirty underwear on the floor, the toilet seat up and snapping nipple clamps on their fingers. Rather than get the hump for being compared to a dead crack whore, Ana finally notices the cigarette burns on Christian that are meant to have been there since childhood but have suddenly popped up for the purpose of this plot. He kneels before her, presumably turning all sub, but Ana still fails to slip on a strap on and instead slips into bed with him for even more soft focus gaspy nooky. During the night, following another fag burning abuse nightmare Christian asks Ana to marry him. Poor Ana’s not sure if he just yelled it out during an attack of the sleep horrors (as you do). The next morning she finds him in his
Pain Room, I mean gym, where he reveals that he really does want to make her his property I mean wife, whilst showing off doing sexy muscle bound poses on his pommel horse. Who could say no? Ana says she’ll think about it.
Yeah ok some people might have finished thinking about it by now.
Annoying sister Rita Ora lets slip it’s Christian’s birthday coming up and Ana starts to wonder again what sort of man she’s moving in with. She rushes back to his place to find yet another hacky faced older woman (Yeah sure it’s his housekeeper) and wonders into his Aberdeen Angus Steakhouse of Pain, demanding that he does her with his implements.
Same thing innit?
He agrees but takes her and the sex front axle to his bedroom for what ends up being yet more vanilla soft focus shagging. A gaspy, grateful Ana presents Christian a mysterious gift from a street vendor and makes him promise not to open it until his birthday. But oh no he may not reach his birthday as during a last minute business trip he goes on with his female assistant because HE’S ALLOWED to do shit like this without Ana having a meltdown the aforementioned chopper goes a little bit on fire and it’s all over the news like they’d have space for a story like this nowadays when there’s foreigners to be afraid of. Christian’s ENTIRE family show up awkwardly including his Shaggy from Scooby Doo drug dealer brother and Ana’s slutty friend. Christian turns up looking photogenically scuffed and the family shuffle back awkwardly into the lift leaving Ana to reveal that her birthday present is a key-ring with the word “Yes” on the back. Cheap bitch!
Christian can’t wait to announce his engagement to Ana at his birthday party and somebody has managed to invite Elena who pulls faces so hacky before calling Ana a proper slag who can’t do proper kinky sex like what she can. Ana wastes a perfectly good drink on her, before Christian’s mum slaps her round the chops and orders her to “Get Aht of Mah Mansion!” and Christian tells her to get lost as he doesn’t want to be her sex toy business partner anymore. And everything ends happily with Christian stage managing his proposal to Ana so it coincides with his birthday fireworks. Ana’s ex sexpest boss, driven stark staring mental by her rejection and the loss of his job is STILL bloody stalking her. Fin. Thank Flip!
The original film, directed by Sam Taylor Wood, seemed to play on it’s camp awfulness, but James Foley’s sequel achieves bad US soap opera levels of dullness by taking itself just that touch more seriously.
Comfortingly the cinema was nearly empty for this screening, so hopefully anybody who ever once thought this whole franchise was sexy or anything other than creepy and depressing has come to their senses and EL James will take her awful prose, dull unrealistic soft focus soft porn (the real porn being the aspirational lifestyle shots of course) and twisted Mills and Boon mentality towards relationships and stick them where the silver balls won’t rattle.
But whatever turns you on. Preverts.