As a foe of porn parodies (=ripoffs of copyrighted content) I was shocked at the high-quality, and utter seriousness of Jim Powers' "This Isn't Fifty Shades of Grey". Instead of the usual crap he decided to take this material seriously and run with it, resulting in one of his best films (out of a thousand-plus) since his ground-breaking "Perverted Stories" series two decades back.
Much of his success with the project comes from perfect casting of Allie Haze as the virginal college co-ed drawn into the dark BDSM world of billionaire Ryan Driller, latter delivering his often tongue-twisting lines of dialog with amazing skill. Both thesps deserve to be starring in mainstream projects on the basis of these performances here, and overall this is the first (though I enjoyed Powers' "Diary of Love" rip- off of Nicholas Sparks material) so-called "porn parody" that justifies its existence among classic story-line Adult Cinema features.
During its 2-1/2 hours of running time, there is not a false note, a facetious scene, or a playing down to the audience. Rather, Powers creates interesting 3-dimensional characters and Allie & Driller bring them to life. Irony is that a one-week porno project can deliver such depth compared to those bloated big-budget Dakota Johnson mainstream junkers Universal will be foisting on us for years to come.
Proof of Powers' serious intent is that in a key supporting role Jaslene Jade aka Natalie Heart clearly shot many a sex scene and looks beautiful (even more so than star Haze) in the still photos on the DVD, but her performance has been edited to almost a NonSex Role, since her sex footage is merely back-story, shown in fleeting edits only. This is very important in supporting the narrative thrust and focus of the show on Allie's character, rather than to just pad the sex content. Distributor Smash Pictures likes to give an alternate "wall-to-wall sex" version to the DVD buyer, and that one runs 75 minutes, only have as long as the integral version. Folks who would skip, out of bad habit, the dialog scenes are shooting themselves in the feet.
Julia Ann guest stars in a key role as an older character comically referred to by Allie as "Mrs. Robinson" (her name is actually Anna Lincoln), and her scenes as dominatrix with a hooded/masked masochist (eventually revealed to be Logan Pierce, rather than Ryan as I foolishly assumed) are marvelous -another feather in JA's fabulous, ongoing career.
Instead of the "suitable for individual streaming" format of nearly all of today's porn, Powers features almost a dozen concise sex scenes, often leaving out the money shot. Just one small stab in saluting Adult Cinema's Golden Age, when even hacks tried to tell a story instead of commoditizing screen sex for the greatest (= lowest) common denominator.
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