Some artists use oils or watercolors, but Dakota Johnson paints in umms. As Anastasia Steele, the lip-biting ingenue at the center of the Fifty Shades franchise, she decorates nearly every line she’s given with just a touch of prevarication. Is Ana sad? Huh, yes she is. Is she angry? Mhmmm. Is she hungry? Uhhhhmmmmm. Her scene partner, a mostly clothed hammerhead shark named Jamie Dornan, might take these movies seriously. Dakota Johnson, comedic genius, is, uh, like, just, you know, having fun, or something.
In fact, Dakota Johnson somehow makes Fifty Shades Darker hilarious. She has an uncanny, unnerving sense of timing, and the ability to pull off deadpan humor while the film forces her into an escalating series of absurd outfits, parties, and sex scenes. It’s easy to spend most of the film’s interminable 118-minute running time — why does it need both a formal gala and a formal birthday party? — laughing at the movie, but you’re always laughing with her. Since we have neither the space nor the Kinko’s budget to print out and frame every single line that Johnson says in Fifty Shades Darker, here are her 21 best line deliveries, each and every one a masterwork of prevarication.
1. “This is, like, so much of my face.”
After arriving at a friend’s art show that consists solely of photos of her face, delivered with the shock of someone first discovering that they have a face.
2. “They’re super … large.”
Further observations on said art show, where the photos of her face are, indeed, pretty large.
3. “I will have dinner with you … because I’m hungry.”
When explaining why she agreed to go to dinner with Christian, spoken with just more of pause between you and because than was ever necessary.
4. “Well … generally, a key part of good communication is that both parties are conscious.”
After Christian reveals that he told her about his traumatic past while she was asleep, Johnson reacts with the voice of someone delivering a seminar on good team-building in the workplace.
5. “I think the parallels with Dante’s Inferno are uh-mazing.”
While explaining to her boss why he should read a political thriller from a hot new online writer, Johnson’s Ana speaks with the conviction of someone who read about Dante once, maybe in a Dan Brown book, but knows he’s super-important.
6. “Your new favorite flavor [giggles].”
After throwing a pint of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream at Christian in a supermarket, Ana gets in some wink-wink nudge-nudge product placement from big ice cream.
7. “I was reading Austen and Brontë … and nobody ever lived up to that.”
Ana tells Christian that she waited to lose her virginity, because she was waiting for a real Mr. Darcy. Nobody tell her what Mr. Darcy actually looked like.
8. “I was being romantic and then you just go and distract me with your kinky fuckery.”
In Fifty Shades Darker’s single best line reading, Johnson applies enough vocal fry to create a whole new word: “keeeeenky.” It’s the work of a master.
9. “Christian, I don’t care about my hair — explain to me what’s going on!”
This line is delivered through an unnervingly perfect set of bangs.
10. “Sex is not gonna fix this right now. Are you insane?”
Shortly thereafter, Ana and Christian have sex. It does not fix things.
11. “… You’re not putting those in my butt.”
After Christian reveals a pair of Ben Wa Balls to her, Ana lays down the law. (The balls go in her vagina instead.)
12. “Weird … but good.”
This is Ana’s description of how the Ben Wa balls feel in her vagina. It also applies to every line she delivers for the next scene, in which she quivers nervously and keeps looking down at her vagina, in which lie the balls that are making her feel weird, but good.
13. “So … this is where your knot-tying expertise came from.”
Ana says this while examining Christian’s big and fancy boat, but the way Johnson reads it, it comes across as a little bit of a burn, because Christian has just been tying a knot halfheartedly and also there are a bunch of servants on the boat that seem to do everything for him anyway.
14. “I’m Ana, but you know that already … because you said my last name.”
Ana says this to Christian’s maid, as Fifty Shades Darker flirts with implications of a romantic lead whose lifestyle is propped up by the physical and emotional labor of dozens of people, but then decides just to focus on the sex instead.
15. “Does she come here a lot? Does she, um, dust in here?”
Ana says this in Christian’s infamous red room, continuing to wonder what exactly Christian’s maid does in his fancy apartment.
16. “That wasn’t a fight, that was a conversation: When somebody talks and another person listens and you resolve an issue.”
A lesson in problem-solving, from Ana to Christian, and from Dakota Johnson to us all.
17. “… Whoa.”
In a bathrobe, holding a glass of white wine, Ana reacts to the news that Christian has found a seemingly extralegal way to get her sexual-predator boss fired.
18. “I expect you to call me Ana, and I don’t expect you to fetch me coffee unless you’re getting some for yourself.”
Ana references Johnson’s mom Melanie Griffith’s famous lines from Working Girl after she’s suddenly promoted at the office. It is somehow the best written part of the film — because it comes from one that’s actually good — and an incredibly rude thing for Ana to say to her former co-worker. Why, in the year 2017, would she ever stop calling her Ana?
19. “Stop it, Taylor!”
Ana says this to Christian’s bodyguard Taylor as she walks away from Christian’s car, out into the Seattle streets for a Sia montage. She is very good at remembering people’s names.
After Christian says that he wants to marry her, Ana asks the obvious question.
21. “Umm, yeah, birthday.”
After Christian complains that his family throws him a birthday party every year, Ana, a true hero, explains how time works.
And while we can’t officially call them line readings, we’d like to give a special shout-out to every single nonverbal utterance Johnson makes during the film, including, but not limited to, “umm,” “uh-huh,” “mmhm,” “huh?,” “hrm,” and “ooh,” as well as the sound of her heavy breathing while watching Jamie Dornan work out on a pommel horse.