Mitch’s Movie Mash: Shades of ‘Bridges of Madison County’ Genius

When Mother first told me about 50 Shades of Grey I thought I would never get past page 69 (ha-ha), but you’ll be surprised what a week with the in-laws will do to you. It’s the kind of book that mother always reads — although Jane Austin is both cheaper and better in terms of both time and moo-lah — and tends to leave open on my busy desk (unless I’m writing away from home — often a popular coffee house) turned to a particularly scandalous passage, as though to trumpet the upcoming sellout blockbuster. Once again, correct as usual, Mom! It’s almost as though you knew I would be reviewing this movie.

The book has its share of loyal readers and I should warn them now that even I was surprised by the level of gruesome eroticism in this adaptation. The huffing and puffing is too much, much much too much, to quote a phrase, and it turned this viewer right off. The soundtrack is incredibly graphic and loud and the language too explicit to repeat, so much so that @Todd would hardly stop squirming and yipping. (Luckily, the theater ushers were in the same predicament — completely rooted to the carpet.) For many the mise-en-scene will be too strong. The photography is strangely gonzo, with shot after shot that seems exactly like the last. I personally found the bits with candle wax unbearable to watch. Just like the horse head scene in The Godfather, there is too much blood in this movie, and way too much screaming.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the title character in the television series “Sherlock.”
Benedict Cumberbatch rooted to his carpet.

The story also suffers from being so pedestrian it is like taking a walk. Anastasia Steele, played by the always smiling and pale Mika Blue, loses her way in the suburbs of Los Angeles — we’ve all been there — and is forced from dehydration and a sense of panic to knock on the door of a huge mansion that just so happens to belong to Dorian Grey, played by the ubiquitous and dramatic Benedict Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch welcomes Blue into his living room for a lemonade and slice of rump, which quickly becomes just that (!). Events move quickly from babbled lines to sly looks off-screen, presumably at the prompt cards, right into Cumberbatch’s Chamber of Secrets (2004) (SPOILER ALERT) behind what would appear to most to be nothing more than a plain, white door. (It’s much more than just a plain door.)

After the big buildup the plot simply goes nowhere. Cumberbatch smiles, Blue groans, Cumberbatch smiles, Blue groans, Cumberbatch smiles. There are no new developments after the introduction of the dwarf, which may go some way, along with the arty color palette, to explain the generous rating awarded by the MPAA (R). Bravo, Motion Picture Association of America, on this progressive stance! Although, @Todd grew quite squirmy when Cumberbatch gave his all in the final minutes — something you must have quite the stomach for. But allowing such a gruesome performance from both leads, coming together in such a unique way, really should be commended!


Now this certainly shouldn’t be considered a date movie, although that depends on the man you’re dating. What ultimately ruined the movie for me were the couple in the story that talked during the entire movie, despite the obvious efforts of the director Sam Taylor-Johnson to minimize the dialogue. In short, I don’t think I will be taking Mom to see this movie, although if it appears in her Christmas stocking, don’t blame Mitchell Kennedy!