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Fifty Shades of Grey

Coming Soon

Where do I start with the movie everyone and their mother is talking about? At the mere mention of Fifty Shades of Grey people have set notions as to love it or hate it. What began as fan fiction, has evolved into a multi-million dollar franchise. It has sold over 100 million copies and is making A-list stars out of the cast. I applaud the director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, for rolling with the punches; from last-minute casting changes to the novel’s demanding author, this wasn’t an easy endeavor. This is a film born of controversy and can struggle to find its footing, but the overall product is firm in its own right.

From the very moment studios began bidding on this series (likely even before then), fans have been throwing names in the ring as to who should play the infamous Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. The fervor can be likened to Bella Swan and Edward Cullen from Twilight (which this is based), though much more intense considering social media’s growth since then. Alexis Bledel, Leighton Meester, Matt Boomer and Ian Somerhalder were names thrown around for the roles of Ana and Christian, but who would get these career defining roles?

Charlie Hunnam was offered and he accepted the role of Mr. Grey, but then he turned it down just a few weeks before filming, intensifying the fan frenzy. Everyone seemed to have an opinion as to who would and should be Grey. When it was finally announced that Jamie Doran would be playing the character, fans were not happy. Knowing how much strife there was “behind-the-scenes,” left me with somewhat low expectations, and the fact that I didn’t like the book didn’t help, but I thought Sam Taylor-Johnson truly captured how swept up (in the fairy tale) Ana must have felt. With the Seattle skyline in the distance, helicopter rides and exotic cars, drivers and maids; there was no shortage of rags-to-riches fare. The only difference between those regular fairy tales and this one is the sex — and more importantly — the red room of pain.

Many people feel that this story does not accurately depict the BDSM community. If you are familiar with the story then you know that there is dominant and submissive role-play and the subsequent tools used during those sexual activities. I really know nothing of that community so I can’t speak to that, but I understand the frustration with being misrepresented. Christian is so creepily controlling, even out of the bedroom, that it made me uncomfortable. His dialogue is plucked from cheesy soap operas, including the overly-angst-filled: “I’m not good for you, leave me!”, that resulted in chuckled amusement from the audience. The perpetually displeased look on Jamie Doran’s face did not help matters. I did find the chemistry between the two leads to be believable, which I suppose is a testament to their acting ability, after all, they had just met before filming those intimate scenes. Surprisingly, Dakota Johnson (Anastasia) had many funny lines, and thanks to her natural comedic timing managed to make light of the situation. It was a smart decision to account for the chunk of audience that will either be new to the material, or will be immensely uncomfortable during the experience. The sex accounts for a good portion of the film, but nowhere near the amount in the book. Fans who love the book and who are concerned with how much of the movie is reserved for sex, should know that the majority of the film is wrapped up in Christian’s drama.

Overall, it was a pretty good adaption of the source material, but it leaves much to be desired by way of healthy relationships. Christian borders on the early stages of controlling-creeper by managing every aspect of Ana’s life. I knew that going in, but it was jarring to see it brought to life. I get that this is fantasy and it is marketed towards a very specific audience, so I would never ban or censor these books or the movie, but it concerns me that so many fans find Christian appealing beyond his attractiveness and wealth. To remove those things is to see an emotionally unstable man trying to control every aspect of life itself. Anastasia, for what it’s worth, is sensible and awkward (much like Bella Swan). She is just graduating college (age 22-23?) and Grey is 27, so the relationship is between consenting adults, but some of those scenes left a sour taste in my mouth. Nonetheless, for those people who have read the book and are dying to see the movie, I think you will be pleased. Others may find the parallels to Twilight unbearable.

One word to describe Fifty Shades of Grey? Enticing.

This film is sexy, over the top, and the soundtack (featuring Beyonce and The Weeknd) is quite alluring. The chemistry is there so the equation adds up — viewers will be satisfied. While I found myself rolling my eyes and blanching at lines from Grey, overall I believe much of the audience will be swept up with all fifty shades of Christian Grey.

Fifty Shades of Grey is streaming now on the following services:
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  1. Excellent review. I didn’t read the books so I can’t make a comparison between the books and the movie. It is good that the movie focused less on sex as opposed to the books. More sex would have been uncomfortable. I rebel against being controlled so the dominant/submissive relationship was unappealing to me.

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