Fifty Shades of Grey Only Has One Truly Fatal Flaw

By Shanna Mathews-Mendez | Published

fifty shades of grey

It’s not the director — Sam Taylor Johhson does a remarkable job. It’s not the actors — Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson are both brilliant. It is the casting of Dornan as Christian Grey that proves to be the fatal flaw in Fifty Shades of Grey–there’s so much right with the movie, but that one mistake destroys any hopes for it to be great.

At First, Nothing About It Appealed

I never read the Fifty Shades of Grey books by E.L. James. I enjoy a good romance novel, but this kind of stuff is just no my bag. Thus, when the films came out I similarly had no interest.

The books and movies hit my radar only because they were so enormously successful with other women my age. Indeed, the film has grossed almost $600 million against a $40 million budget. 

Women flocked to the theaters Valentine’s Day weekend, 2015, and then went back for more.

But critics hated it. Though they did note that it was at least better than the book, which was also not well-received by critics. 

In any event, I hardly paid attention. 

Christian’s Dark Past

fifty shades of grey

Until I started watching films with Dakota Johnson like Peanut Butter Falcon and Bad Times at the El Royale. She’s good! Then I got hooked by Jamie Dornan’s weird and awkward characters in movies like Wild Mountain Thyme and Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar

As a fan of both, I finally decided to sit down on a Saturday night when everyone else was asleep and check out Fifty Shades of Grey

The story is, at heart, an interesting one because while it is ostensibly about a wealthy man and a college student who fall in love, the twists come not because the man is into BDSM but because of the dark past constantly referenced that have steered him toward that interest

Dakota Johnson

As the story unfolds, Anastasia (Johnson) reluctantly agrees to enter into a BDSM contract with Christian, all while pushing him to explain his insistence on this lifestyle. The directing of the film is tight, and Taylor-Johnson does a great job of making audiences feel like we’re in the lap of luxury. Johnson plays the innocent, naive virgin who is a little intrigued and a little put off.

You can tell that Ana falls head over heels in love with Christian but also does a good job of holding her boundaries. 

Jamie Dornan

The problem comes with Dornan’s turn as Christian. It’s obvious that this is a character who is supposed to be mysterious, serious, dark, and brooding, with tight control over his emotions. Dornan is not meant for these kinds of roles.

He plays the brooding and the misunderstood well, like in The Tourist. But not the dark, wounded soul. It just comes off corny. 

Hunnam Would’ve Worked Better

Charlie Hunnam

I sat watching Fifty Shades of Grey in the dark waiting to see where the difference between the critics and the adoring women lay, and it is here. Dornan and Johnson do indeed have great chemistry, but this pairing can only work as a genuine romance, without all the dark stuff. 

Charlie Hunnam, who was originally cast in this role but had to bow out due to conflicts with his Sons of Anarchy filming, would have pulled Christian Grey off beautifully. I believed Jax Teller could murder a rival gang member, hold his heart behind a steel wall, and also be desperately in love with Tara. SOA was perfect practice for Fifty Shades of Grey.

Stream It Now


But, alas, it wasn’t meant to be, and we are stuck with what we have — a slightly goofy BDSM film with the wrong actor, doing a disservice to both.

You can stream Fifty Shades of Grey on Max.