Fifty Shades of Grey is the infamous novel that took the world by storm in 2012. What started out as fan fiction for the vampire series Twilight, blossomed into a story about a girl with a crush, and how her first sexual experience changes her.
I have only read the first two pages of the novel. I can’t bring myself to continue. The writing, in my opinion, comes off as a first draft of a fantasy by a ninth grade girl. She just had her first kiss from the Quarterback and decided to turn it into a story. Of course, we know the story was written by a woman in her mid forties, and one has to wonder, what was the inspiration behind this story? Yes, we know it was Twilight. But, every story has some basis of non-fiction in it. Did EL James merely have an attraction to Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner? Did she take her love for Twilight and use it to dramatize a story from her own life? The world may never know.
What we do know, is that this erotic piece of fiction has blown every other romance novel out of the water. It very well may remain a mystery as to why. We have a phenomenon, and all we can do is accept, that for some reason, the world has become taken by Christian Grey.
When a book becomes so popular that its title is on everyone’s lips, Hollywood takes interest. So, three years after the novel’s birth, we now have the film adaptation. The film is seen as a guilty pleasure, an alien, an addiction– a secret. Don’t tell anyone you’ve seen it. Don’t go to a showing during daylight. No. Instead, don a wide hat, trench coat and sun glasses. Or, use the internet to see the film in the pleasure of your own home, at 1 in the morning.
The film is better than what you’ve heard. It is crippled by its source material, yes, but if you watch this film knowing it’s going to be strange and uncomfortable, you’ll be fine. The actors here do a fine job. The casting of Christian Grey was highly publicized. Would the role by played by Matt Bomer? No. (Producers didn’t want an openly gay actor.) Ian Somerhalder? Nope. (He wasn’t interested.) The role had been given to Charlie Hunnam, but dropped out after internet backlash.
The role went to Jamie Dorian, whom, was unknown to me. He’s been in a BBC series, The Fall, as well as Once Upon a Time. There are other things on his resume, but those are the most widely known. The actor is extremely charismatic and his body is the type that women will smile when his shirt comes off.
Anna Steele, the college student who finds herself entranced by Christian, is played by Dakota Johnson. The actress is suitable for the role, but there are some inconsistencies with her performance. These could be a result of directing or editing, however. She also bites her lip a lot. However, one might remember Kristen Stewart was known for doing that in the Twilight films…
The role of Anna almost went to Lucy Hale. But, producers thought she looked too young. While watching the film, I wondered how Lucy would have handled the material and half wished she had been in the role instead.
Fans were outraged when they heard the film only has twenty minutes of sex. Well. I’m here to tell you, these twenty minutes are PLENTY and while they may appear “rushed” in places, they are not skimpy or cheap. You see Anna’s breasts. And you will see the top of Christian’s shaft, even if it’s just for a second. There’s slamming down on the bed. Intense kissing. Etc. This is the type of sex that’s in the film and I have no idea why fans were disappointed. The novel might be ten times more graphic, I suppose. Trust me, though. You don’t ever want to see this film with your parents or a friend.
While most people will tell you this is a story of abuse and strictly BDSM, I’m here to tell you, that is not what this is.
Yes, BDSM is a factor. But this is not the focus of the film. Instead, I saw the film as a story about a virgin becoming captivated by getting attention from a man for the first time. (And, more importantly, her first sexual experience.)
Anna tells Christian she “wouldn’t know about sex” and that she’s “never gotten attention when she wanted it.” And so, this is the core of Fifty Shades of Grey: Anna is taken by Christian’s affection and then longs for a “real” relationship. Of course, Christian only wants a sexual relationship. That’s the story the film is telling. I can’t speak of the novel.
The technical aspects of this film are top notch (MOSTLY.). The music by Danny Elfman is especially gripping, a nice change from the wacky themes we typically hear in a Tim Burton film. The Production Design is exquisite. Christian’s apartment gives the impression of belonging to someone extremely wealthy and the lighting design casts mystery as Christian plays the piano.
Where the film goes south, is its direction and editing. Anna goes from extremely timid to taking charge to back again. While the character does get excited of experiencing something new, she takes charge in a few situations where her established traits says she wouldn’t. I mainly am talking about a scene in which Anna and Christian have a “business meeting” in his office.
First, Christian slides his hand towards Anna’s behind as they walk. She slides it away, saying this is formal meeting. It’s meant to make you chuckle, but its inconstant with Anna’s overall character. She instead would have been uncomfortable but accepted the touching.
During the meeting, Anna makes quips left and right, putting Christian in his place, as they discuss a private matter. Again, it just does not fit with her overly timid nature. As to why the scene is like this could be a directing decision or an editing one.
The films ending is also very abrupt. There are two sequels to the original novel, so one might assume this ending serves as a “cliffhanger.” But, it just seems jarring. And you’ll go, “That’s it?”
Fifty Shades of Grey is not a bad film. It’s an unusual one. It is an entity. An enigma. And, there will be two more.
Should you see it?
If you’re curious as to what all the fuss is about, yes.