I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror. My roommate is sick and needs me to go and review Fifty Shades of Grey for the FACT website. Great...just what I needed. There's just one problem. I've never reviewed a film before and it shows. All I've got with me to write my notes is a pack of Crayola crayons and some blank postcards depicting the seaside town of Grimsby. I must look like an amateur reviewer or... something.

 

What the hell, my subconscious tells me, nobody reads this stuff anyway. 

 

Holy crap! I'm running late. I'm also running up the stairs. The stairs are cold, concretey, solid, adjectival, describable, stairs and made of concrete. Typical me I trip on the last step and land flat on my face in front of the box office. Damn my lack of equilibrium.

 

When I look up, I see a girl - No! a woman - in front of me. 

 

'What is it with stairs?' I say. 

 

She offers me her hand. As our fingers touch I feel an odd electric shiver run through my spine. She's wearing one of those novelty electric buzzers.   

 

I look at her name tag: 'Christina'. Her eyes are grey and she has a face. More face than anyone I've ever seen before.

 

'You're here to review the movie, am I correct?' 

 

Her voice is warm and husky like a warm husky. My face is aflame. Or is it a flame? That would be cool. FLAME ON! Nah, I'm just flushing again. My nose is bleeding.

 

She points me towards a cinema screen. I walk forward and she prods me through the door with her torch. I say torch because it feels like it might be a torch but no light is coming out of it, so I'm not sure. Weird. 

 

'Have I missed the previews?' I ask.

 

'Previews?' She quips, 'I call them foreplays.'

 

She's being quite sexually aggressive, actually. I'm not having an enjoyable time.  

 

She sits me down in a particular chair and straps me in. Is it normal to have seatbelts in a cinema? Why do my legs have to be strapped down too? I swallow hard. 

 

The film begins and I scribble down my notes:


 

The camera avoids the face of Mr. Grey (Jamie Dornan) for the sake of mystery, a bit like how you never get a good look at the parents in cartoons or the shark from Jaws.

 

Eventually you see his face. He's a dweeb trying to be hard. His mystery stare looks like he's been hit over the head with a pan. He's the plastic shark from Jaws. In this sense the book might actually be better than the film because at least if E.L. James writes  'mysterious man' you can conjure him up rather than having this guy gawping back at you.

 

Fortunately for Grey he's a filthy rich, good looking businessman so we have to pretend he's interesting, just like Ana Steele (Dakota Johnson) does.

 

Grey has got some cracking chat up lines. One that stands out is: 'I've never taken a girl in the helicopter before.' If you like someone, say it in helicopters.

 

Ana Steele's got an awful haircut. It's Beatles mop top meets a mullet following a car crash. This is cinema's way of telling you she's a virgin.

 

Pretty sure Grey's assistant, Taylor, is played by Lance Armstrong. Glad he's doing okay.

 

What is going on with their voices? Grey's doing an awful hybrid of Bane and Al Pacino having just glugged down some frogspawn. Steel's constantly on the cusp of crying. Maybe if she stopped biting her lip so much she wouldn't be in so much pain. 

 


 

That's one postcard done. Holy cow! I'm really doing it. I'm reviewing a movie. I can't help but smirk. It's a hereditary condition where my face contorts involuntarily. Christina brings me some popcorn. My mouth goes dry. She's brought salty even though I asked for sweet. Now that's sadistic!

 

On to the next postcard:

 


 

Grey shows her his bondage playroom. It's full of intricate brushes. I half expect her to ask 'Do you play percussion?' If you're looking for a sex symbol, this room's probably your best bet. Badum-dum-tsch.  

 

 

Grey tells Steele that one instrument is called 'the flogger.' A woman in the audience with two very large glasses of white wine cries out, 'Oh ye dirty bastard!' This is pure pantomime.

 

 

This Grey guy is obsessed with thrashing out a contract that lays down the rules of sexual engagement. Because nothing says 'sexy' like bureaucracy, right?

 

Honestly it's like reading safety instructions before going on Oblivion at Alton Towers.  

 

Why do they negotiate said contract in what looks like a Japanese dojo lit by somebody with strong disco sensibilities? Are all meeting rooms like this? Is this how business works? 

 


 

I'm struggling to write my notes. I realise now why they strapped me in. For a film with a lot of sex scenes I haven't once felt excited down there. In my pants. Where my length is. The entire thing is frisson free and it's not even funny anymore.

 

Zing. 

 

I think back to earlier in the day when my roommate had begged me to take her place. Sigh. How I wished I'd remembered the safety words: 'Sorry. I'm. Busy.'

 

I think about how I'm going to type up my review. I want it to end really strongly, powerfully, and fully. I write down the line: Fifty Shades may have given people more bang from their book since the release of the Karma Sutra, but Sam Taylor-Johnson's latest directorial effort proves that grey is the dullest colour. Not bad, if a little contrived.

 

Now all I need is for someone to unstrap me. Oh god! The film's starting again. Help?

 

Follow Jamie on Twitter @carragherjamie