A WOMAN has a cocktail thrown in her face and is then slapped within 60 seconds – is this Days Of Our Lives or Fifty Shades Darker?
This is after a Fatal Attraction stalker sub-plot that is drawn out for maximum tension, and then promptly resolved and tossed aside like a used condom.
So confused and unfocused is this sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey, that after attempting to steam up the screen by re-sparking the relationship between billionaire sadist Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and mousy Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) with mixing sex and danger, it changes gears into high camp as fast as a whip crack.
It feels likes the audience has been duped into watching an extended episode of an undying soap opera.
But these are not the only issues with this problematic movie.
Despite being ditched by Anastasia at the end of the last one, Christian weasels his way back into her life, acquires her bank details (and will not reveal how), throws money at her, treats her like property, will not permit her to go on a New York business trip and attracts a stalker.
Instead of running a mile, Anastasia sticks around to try to change the sexy sadist, engages in some sizzling sex and plays house.
Meanwhile her photographer buddy Jose (Victor Rasuk), who is in love with her, hosts an exhibition of photos of her without her consent and her boss tries to rape her.
For some reason, this film tries its best to have every male character out-creep the next, while Anastasia is bafflingly, inexplicably blind to it.
In fact the drink toss and slap is such an amusing welcome relief from what up until that point has been a drawn out, tedious exercise in misogyny, dimly lit sex played out to a pumping pop music soundtrack and “will he/won’t he continue to be a creep” narrative.
A minor saving grace is that Darker has a sense of humour, and not just in general, but with its own ridiculous story; a few throw away quips imply a self-deprecating attitude.
Other faint praise is that it is more about female sexual pleasure and less about Grey inflicting pain on a woman to get his rocks off.
It is not much, but when there is one more of these movies to get through, we will take what we can get.
Fifty Shades Darker (MA)
Directed by: James Foley
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan
Review by Julian Wright
In cinemas now