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Film Review: ‘Fifty Shades Darker’

8 February 2017 5:59 AM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

“I was reading Austen and Brontë and no one ever measured up to that,” says Anastasia Steele of her romantic history near the beginning of “Fifty Shades Darker.” Had she only been reading E.L. James, she might have been less disappointed in life — though in her first film outing, 2015’s slinky schlockbuster “Fifty Shades of Grey,” director Sam Taylor-Johnson and screenwriter Kelly Marcel also aspired to a higher standard. Smartly gutting James’s viscous purple prose for something more curt and witty, it was one of the great pleasant surprises in recent studio moviemaking. So it’s perhaps unfair to knock James Foley’s serviceable, lip-glossed sequel merely for delivering what might have reasonably been expected in the first place: an expensively scented two-hour soapdown, interspersed with some light erotic frisking, all administered very much with the original author’s sticky-fingered touch. Sure to make Grey at the Valentine’s Day box office, »

- Guy Lodge

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