Fifty Shades of Grey
February 18, 2015 by Zack
I’m going to assume that for little girls, there wasn’t a BDSM handbook along with their Eloise when they were growing up. I have two sisters, and I can attest I never saw much leather lying around the house. The story of “Fifty Shades of Grey”, however, is not really eye opening in that it shines new light on what women’s fantasies are–because it seems like this kind of fantasy could only come from a man.
Only it didn’t. Originally starting as fan fiction based upon the “Twilight” series, E.L. James (nice try, hon) re-imagined it as an “original” story about a girl, submission, a very rich guy with emotional issues, and it became a bestseller and spawned this film adaptation. The leads, Dakota Johnson, and Jamie Dornan, are legitimate actors and not porn stars. After seeing this film, it could have starred Andrew Stevens and Shannon Tweed if this were made in the 1980’s.
The film’s plot is very thin, and like a porno film, inconsequential to its purpose. A nice, but very naive and innocent girl named Anastasia (Ana for short), played by Johnson, is given the opportunity to interview a mysterious business mogul Christian Grey (Dornan) after her roommate is sick and can’t do it herself. Grey is instantly attracted to her for some reason, and invites her into his life which comes complete with high rise apartment living, private jets, and helicopters.
Who wouldn’t jump at this opportunity? Well, there’s a catch. He happens to have a fetish with whipping, tying up, and other punishments. He offers Ana a choice through a thorough contract (be still my beating heart) in order to be with him. He doesn’t have girlfriends, and he doesn’t do “dating”. Every instinct would tell this woman to run in the opposite direction of this nutcase; but she runs straight into his arms, and straight into his playroom.
Never in this film could I ever take this scenario seriously–and yet, there is a realistic feel to it that makes me think the filmmakers, and James herself, believes this not only does happen…but that it should. If a guy has the assets that Grey has, then it’s a dream come true to do his bidding. Ana basically becomes a sex servant, but because she seems to enjoy it, it’s justified.
I can’t think of a more disturbed story, except that it’d be par for the course if it were written by J. Eszterhas. This is the kind of movie that would be protested against by every feminist group in the world, a movie that would ruin the careers of the director and actors associated with it.
Instead, I suppose because it’s written by a woman and endorsed by so many who have made the book into an empire of itself, this is the new “Gone With the Wind” (in terms of popularity, not content–trust me, Ana’s got nothing on Scarlett). But this story presents the ultimate double standard that’s hard to get past.
On balance, the movie doesn’t work. Its plot is almost completely barren, the characters are one dimensional, and nothing is really believable. It is essentially soft core porn, and what can you really say about it–except, it turned you on? Well, this rarely turned me on, mainly because it was so lacking of passion and genuine emotion. It just left me cold.
Grey’s story could have been an interesting one–in fact, the story could have worked if there was a purpose to it underneath its S&M overtones. I can believe that women do want to be in relationships like this with a man that they love–but there’s no love here. Grey is not likable as a person, nor is there much intrigue into his character. His backstory, while scant, is also incredibly cliche. Ana is irritating more than she is endearing, and every scene is gloomy and rainy. It’s meant to come off romantic and sexy, but really just made me wish the two of them would take that private jet down to California for a day or two.
The film itself is bad, and boring; but the message of the film is almost insidious. Under the guise of fantasy and romance, it’s really undoing just about every feminist movement for women in the past 50 years. Not only going back to submitting to your man like in the 40’s and 50’s, but letting him bring his whip and chains along with that Chrysler and garden hose. This could be a scary future if something like this becomes the new “Twilight”. That, at least, was innocent and dumb. This is downright nefarious.