Fifty Shades of “What the F*** is Going On?” would be a better title for this 125 minute film, if it can even be called a film.
After the average, nearly good, reviews of Nowhere Boy (2009), everyone would have thought director Sam Taylor would have made an effort to convey some sort of coherent form of movie this time. However, it just turned out to be a complete lack-of-storyline nudity film, or an excuse for paid pornography (expensive pornography at that.)
A hot young billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Doran) is first attracted to Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) when she enters his luxury office for an interview for the student paper in behalf of her roommate Katherine (Eloise Mumford). Although innocent and naive, Ana finds herself captivated by his enigmatic persona, and they are soon caught in this ‘erotic romance’ starring sex as its main feature. The movie progresses as Ana discovers the singular tastes of Mr. Grey, who despite the embellishment of success, his loving family and his wealth, is absorbed by the need to control everything.
What has happened to young, independent women? When did they turn into scared little princesses?
It seems as if the “Bella Swan character” has taken over Hollywood, and female characters have to be submitted to that of the male’s pleasure. Johnson’s character is obviously not an exception to this new trend – seeing as Fifty Shades has its origins as Twilight fan fiction – where pale, soft skin and skinny, rather skeletal bodies are used to convey the whole ‘I’m a fragile virgin’ concept. In spite of this being torn apart by strong sexual scenes, these appearances are dangerously being associated on screen with characteristics of being young, naive and easily dominated. No wonder protesters claim the film promotes a form of sexual abuse against women, in fact, some would argue that it actually glamorizes domestic violence.
To be fair, not everything is the films’ fault. If we take out the parts where the characters are “blushing”, “chewing their lips”, or actually, any sex-descriptive scenes, the book would probably be left with 50 pages, maybe not even that. Thanks to the excellent work of Kelly Marcel who wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation, the audience have now realized that really, this lack of storyline comes from E. L. James’s lack of writing skills – an author who used abusive repetition, poor structure, and a 16 year old fantasy imagination to unsurprisingly catch the attention of millions of sexually frustrated women around the planet. And it is the same women that will have bought tickets to watch what their sexual thoughts look like in real life, and that will probably have sat there wondering why they wasted their money to see a naked man’s back, and a couple of ‘hardcore’ sex scenes.
Speaking of sex, at least we can accept that hot scenes were shot in an intense and passionate way; in other words, the movie does its job in terms of sex scenes. Dornan portrays that intensity and ardor that, combined with his feeling of anger and enjoyment at the same time, paint a perfect image of that lonely, damaged soul hidden inside his character. Through his body language, he makes it clear that Mr. Grey has suffered in the past, and further develops that sense of enigma carried throughout the film.
The billionaire character is complimented with a first class apartment and a range of luxury cars that perfectly suit the movie scenarios. These scenarios and the plot generally are further accompanied by the perfect soundtrack put together by Danny Elfman, and features great artists such as Ellie Goulding or Beyonce who provide that extra sense of sensuality and seductiveness needed in some parts of the film.
We could argue that part of the film’s failure is ours. We, the readers, created such big expectations in our minds that when it actually came to watch the real thing, it did not reach our expectations at all. Yes it was boring, and yes it could have been much better, but the truth is pornography cannot be shown at a cinema, and that is what the audience really wanted.