A Valentine's Soiree and Fifty Shades of Grey Review

by - February 15, 2015

A couple of weeks ago I was taking the bus home from central London and we went by an Everyman Cinema. I've seen these around and was kind of curious about seeing a film at one of their locations. So when I got home I went to the website to see if something good was coming up that my husband and I could go see. When I got to the website I was greeted by an advertisement for their Valentine's Soriee event which was a special screening of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Now I was kind of on the fence about seeing Fifty Shades of Grey. I read the books over the Summer and the truth is while I read them all and they were interesting enough I just didn't think they were well written and certainly no where near the hype that surrounds them. To me the characters were a bit flat, Anastasia was really kind of whiney and annoying and the whole dynamic of if you're rich enough a woman will love you no matter how you behave and if you're persistent enough you can change a man's core beliefs and desires kind of irked me. Also I didn't think the books were as steamy as all the publicity around them would have you believe.

All in all a mediocre series...so I don't actually know what made me want to see the film.

I think the haunting remix of Beyonce's 'Crazy in Love' in the trailer is what really drew me in. And then Ellie Goulding's 'Love Me Like You Do' song was released and I became more intrigued. I liked the song and the scenes from the film that were in the music video looked pretty well done and interesting. So when I saw this Valentine's Soriee event (and it included champagne and surprises) I thought why not and booked tickets for us to go on Friday night when the film opened.

Fifty Shades of Grey Tickets

So we got dolled up and headed to Maida Vale where we were greeted by some scantily clad waitresses and daper waiters serving champagne and toting whips around the lobby/bar.

Handcuffs, whips, and champagneFifty Shades of Grey Film Poster

Kinky ChampagneFifty Shades of Grey at Everyman Cinema

I'd be lying if I didn't say that one of the draws for us was the champagne. I did think that maybe the promise of booze would make my husband more likely to come along. Not that he's a wino - just that I know Fifty Shades of Grey really isn't his thing so this would be a starting point. And I have to say Everyman Cinema certainly delivered on the champagne. When we arrived they directed us to a table where we were each given a glass of Champagne Jaquart.

Jacquart Champagne

Then as we sat and waited for the show they came around and topped us glasses including after we already entered the theatre. And then during the show for anyone willing to go out to the concession stand they'd refill the glass again. I'd say throughout the course of the evening we easily got the extra we spent for the tickets in champagne. So all in all not a bad choice!

Jacquart Champagne glasses

As part of the ticket we also had a little bag of surprises at our seats with a variety of items (though unsurprisingly they are mostly intimate themed).

Everyman Cinema Goodie Bag

We got everything from Yves Saint Laurent Mascara to body chocolate to a blindfold. Truth be told my money was on handcuffs so I was pleasantly surprised there were a few interesting items in the mix.

Box of Grey Samples and blindfold

Massage Candle and Body Chocolate

But what did I think about the movie?

Well as I said before I wasn't the biggest fan of the books. I didn't dislike them entirely but I just wasn't impressed. However, I'm a fairly visual person and have been known to enjoy the film more than the book on several occasions. In this case I would say I enjoyed the film more though I'm still not at fan status - more like interested observer.

Firstly, as far as the cinematography goes the filmmakers were given a lot to work with to create a beautiful landscape for the film due to the Christian Grey character's wealth and power. I think this element was possibly my favourite of the film. The aerial shots, the fantasy of your date flying you by helicopter, the beautiful apartment where so much of the film takes place - these translated so well to film, especially since the popularity of the book obviously afforded a nice budget for the production.

The writing was...markedly improved over the books. This is largely because some things that were said could now be shown and I have a feeling someone did some editing with the dialogue that was kept. There were still some cringey lines - especially when stating the obvious or the innuendos that were rampant in the first few minutes of the film. But I will give them credit that the pacing was better though still slow at times. I'm sure there is plenty that hardcore fans miss from the books but I sure can't think of a single scene that I wanted included but wasn't.

The acting was better than I feared but not great. Some of this could be down to the writing but at times the characters just weren't believable. Not that they were every that realistic to start with. I do think the actors had chemistry which could have gone completely wrong. Jamie Dornan's American accent was a bit of a struggle and caused him to get a bit stiff with some of the delivery of the lines. I don't think it was the director's choice for the character but I doubt it. Dakota Johnson was better I thought....she played the slightly awkward and somehow tiid yet outspoken Anastasia Steele better than I expected. However, overall the acting just felt a bit disingenuous and not realistic.  Then again some of the issues I have with the acting were issues I had with the characters when reading the novels so maybe these actors are actually incredibly authentic to the books!

The sex scenes were probably the most talked about element of the film and thus what I was most curious to see how it was handled. Again comparing it to the books, but I remember while reading feeling like the scenes didn't go far enough based on the hype around them. I think with the film it's pretty similar. However, for an R-rated/Certificate 18 film (rather than something more explicit) they actually handled the scenes very well. Some were certainly racy in the context of film and the ratings associated with it. So I think there is that element to get your heart racing a bit while you're watching the film. But yet it is...tasteful for the circumstances? I mean I wasn't shocked and saying on my gosh I can't believe they showed that at any point.

All in all it was an enjoyable, good enough film. It wasn't excellent but it was entertaining. If you liked the books and can watch it without expecting a word-for-word adaptation then you'll like it. If you hated the books or hate adaptations then this is probably a film you should miss. Like the books the content is largely superficial so there's not a lot of concentration required to watch the film. Just sit back (preferably with your glass of champagne) and enjoy the ride.

Have you seen the film or read the books? What were your thoughts on Fifty Shades of Grey? Have you ever been to a similar event put on by a cinema to celebrate a new film?

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