Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA/China, 2017. Perfect World Pictures (Beijing), Universal Pictures. Screenplay by Niall Leonard, based on the novel by E.L. James. Cinematography by John Schwartzman. Produced by Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, E.L. James, Marcus Viscidi. Music by Danny Elfman. Production Design by Nelson Coates. Costume Design by Shay Cunliffe. Film Editing by Richard Francis-Bruce.
You didn’t think she could stay away from all that light spanking forever, did you? Having now gotten her dream job in publishing as assistant to a handsome editor, Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) is enjoying her independence until the billionaire sadist she let go at the end of the last film (Jamie Dornan) shows up and begs her to come back. He still has his limitations (don’t ask about his childhood, don’t touch his chest) but she can’t deny her feelings and is touched by his desire to enter a real relationship with her (which he previously said he was incapable of doing). The progression of their relationship isn’t really enough for an entire movie, so we get a few awkwardly inserted conflicts, including the challenge of Anastasia’s boss, the appearance of a woman from Dornan’s past (played by Kim Basinger) and the surfacing of one of Dornan’s previous conquests (Bella Heathcote). It’s as ridiculous as it was the first time around, but at least the stars have better chemistry and the sex scenes generate a little more heat. Johnson is particularly charming in a performance that puts across a great deal of sincerity, though it’s not enough to excuse the film’s more laughable elements.