First and foremost on the E. L. James checklist of fantasies is sex, and its role in the film.

In short, it’s improved a hell of a lot since its predecessor. Some of the many scenes involving various restraints and oils are even genuinely exciting, in an objective sort of way that doesn’t reflect whatsoever upon the writer of this piece.

Even the soundtrack is excellent. Very little is tasteful, and almost all of it is raunchy. An honorary mention must go to the sound designers, who successfully matched the chorus of a particularly sultry number to the thrust of Jamie Dornan’s pelvis.

Additionally, the film has a large handful of moments, both on purpose and accidental, that are actually hilarious. Some of the scripted moments come off with some real wit and humour, while the far, far greater number of unscripted moments are all the better for the actors’ clear levity within their roles. Yes, the overall quality of acting is pretty horrendous, but it is impossible to believe that anyone has actually taken their role seriously.

In this weird and wonderful pocket universe of sexy melodrama and utterly implausible plot twists, this stance fits perfectly. Of course, it’s not only about what’s being said, but about who is saying it.

If there’s little happening in the way of story, at least there’s something exceptional to look at onscreen. And Eric Johnson’s Jack Hyde is a truly exceptional man. Yes, he reveals himself to be a controlling creep with a weird fixation for Anna, but before that, at their very first meeting? Good god. That man is divine.

Thrown into the mix with Dakota Johnson’s marvellous arse and Jamie Dornan, a man whose tragic and engrossing subplot of attempting to keep a shirt fixed over his racy rippling torso is the film’s true social commentary, and there is a recipe for endless enjoyment.

Nick Burke



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