Sex in the shower, sex on a sailboat, sex with masks on…
Sex in the shower, sex on a sailboat, sex with masks on…
The film adaptation of Fifty Shades Of Grey is continuing to break box office records; and it very nearly broke me today. In fact, I did so much eye-rolling throughout the very overly long movie – it’s two hours and 25 minutes in all – that I’m surprised I didn’t injure myself.
I joined a half-full cinema of mostly teenage girls, nannas and a few old men sitting alone (shudder!) to see the film, but then I shouldn’t be so judgemental, for I too was alone, after my clever husband refused to see it on his day off.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Fifty Shades Of Grey is based on the 2011 E L James erotic bestselling book about a virginal 21-year-old college gal’s sexual awakening thanks to the 27-year-old playboy billionaire she falls for, who loves a bit of rough play.
There’s more than a touch of Twilight about it, which makes perfect sense given E L James’s blockbuster actually evolved from the Twilight Saga fan-fiction she first wrote. Indeed, Fifty Shades Of Grey is kinda like Twilight with sex (er, and without the vampires).
You see, in both Twilight and Fifty Shades Of Grey, the male protagonist is the archetypal bad boy who warns the female protagonist to “stay away” and “I’m not the man for you”. Yawn.
Of course, neither Twilight’s Bella nor Fifty Shades’ female protagonist Anastasia Steele can resist the dastardly charms and dark desires of their charming, yet extremely troubled leading men.
And for me, therein lies the big problem with the film – it was a case of history repeating itself, for I spent much of it willing Ana to dump the emotionally-damaged entrepreneur Christian Grey, just as I did when reading the badly written book.
Beautiful, young Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan both do a fine job of bringing Ana and Christian to life in the movie – indeed, the fact that Johnson in particular makes the book’s clumsy heroine likable and desirable is a credit to her – but it’s the material that’s the problem.
And so more than two hours was way too long a time to spend inside the mind of a control-freak lunatic like Christian Grey, who, while largely pleasuring Ana physically, causes her much more undue emotional unhappiness and distress; cue scene after scene of Ana’s upset.
NB ladies: good men don’t have anger management and/or intimacy issues and they don’t make you incessantly cry, order you around and treat your emotional needs and wants as expendable. And, they don’t bloodywell tell you what to wear, eat or sell your beloved vintage car, without asking!
There’s a line in the film, when Christian is explaining the supposed joys of being a submissive to Ana, when he says giving up your own free will can be liberating and “feel safe”.
To hell with that!? As a mother of two girls, this irked me to my feminist core. Emotional abuse and not being in control of your decision-making are never good relationship options.
It’s such a shame that Anastasia Steele, both in the book and the movie, isn’t a more powerful character. She’s not a happy or willing submissive either, but keeps going back to crazy and creepy Christian for more, despite the fact that he has the emotional depth of a pot plant.
What’s more, he displays an extreme lack of respect for her personal boundaries, space and privacy, randomly turning up everywhere she goes in the manner of a demented stalker.
Maybe I’m too alpha female and believe strongly in mutual relationship respect to see how any of this is hot, but for the most part, I was inwardly screaming at Ana: “What are you doing with him? Pull yourself together!”
I didn’t love the power imbalance either; Christian’s good looks, wealth, power, experience and propensity to buy Ana expensive gifts meant little when he’s such a neurotic, emotionally-stunted f***head.
Now to Fifty Shades Of Grey’s approximate 14 minutes of sex scenes so lovingly filmed by Sam Taylor-Johnson – who’s notably a woman – and captured by cinematographer Seamus McGarvey: for the most part, they’re actually pretty good. Surprisingly so – I mean, sure it’s all vanilla, male-dominating stuff, but there is some beauty there, like as in Ana’s deflowering scene, whereby the camera lovingly captures tiny golden hairs on her thighs.
None of it is shocking or extremely erotic, which is somewhat of a failure for an erotic blockbuster film adaptation, but it’s not absolutely awful either. Again, it’s the shoddy book material to blame.
Of course, it helps that Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan have believable chemistry and both look amazing in the buff. I would have liked to have seen more of Dornan, a full-frontal even, to balance out all the Ana nudity.
But kudos to the cast and to the production crew whom, I believe, did their best to make Fifty Shades Of Grey palatable for the masses.
This is not the worst film you’ll see this year, I’d wager, but definitely leave your man at home and take a girlfriend or two along for a laugh just to satisfy your curiosity, if you must.
And muscled-up, former Calvin Klein model Dornan’s famed “golden torso” is pretty much worth the admission price.
And, speaking of, it was refreshing to see both Johnson’s glorious, full bush and Dornan’s ample pubic hair too – now, that’s something you don’t see every day.
As the movie finally came to a climax (pardon the pun), a man in my cinema audience excitedly yelled: “Oh, thank God!” I hear you buddy! I felt both that man’s pain and his sweet relief when it was all over too.
I give Fifty Shades Of Grey a rating of two out of five whips.
Images, in order, via aww.com.au; inquisitr.com; eonline.com and moviepilot.com
It’s hard to think of a more divisive female protagonist – or a novel for that matter – than Fifty Shades of Grey and its overtly submissive, cotton-tails-wearing central character, Anastasia Steele.
I am not a great fan of either, but love it or loathe it; you cannot ignore the erotic blockbuster. It’s had a profound effect on the literary world and its highly anticipated film adaptation (yawn) will hit our cinemas next February (pictured).
Fifty Shades of Grey critics have called the book “S&M for dummies”, “erotica for the BIG W crowd” and “mummy porn”. But is it empowering or degrading?
Did you, upon reading it, feel so turned on and liberated, that you rushed out and bought S&M gear? Or, like me, did you cringe at the “vanilla” sex and Anastasia’s virginal awkwardness, clumsiness and submissiveness? When I read the 2011 E L James bestseller, my inner word nerd was too horrified by the clumsy writing for it to blow my hair back.
And, if you’ve been living under a rock, here’s a quick synopsis: a virginal 21-year-old college gal and the 27-year-old billionaire meet and enjoy a bit of rough play. He’s a bit of a controlling, arrogant dick, and she is torn between her illicit feelings for him and what she should feel… (OK, that’s not exactly the official synopsis. Why doesn’t she just dump him? Sigh).
She is the author of Swallow the Sound, a collection of short erotic fiction; her 2009 memoir, Affection, was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award and the ABIA Award in 2010; her erotic adventure, Triptych, was published in 2011; and Steeplechase, published in 2013, was her first non-erotic novel.
In addition, Kneen’s been busy reading classic erotica for the last two years researching her new erotic adventure Holly’s Incredible Adventures in the Sex Machine (working title) due to be published in 2015.
“I found Fifty Shades of Grey very hard to read because it made me cranky just how appalling the writing is. It’s really bad, the main character says ‘Holy crap!’ or ‘Holy cow’ or ‘Oh gee’ ad nauseum,” she says.
“And I was in the middle of writing a novel and I tend to get influenced by what I’m reading, so I felt I couldn’t write at all while I was reading the book. I had to skip through it really quickly – it was such bad writing I was worried my own writing would take on elements of it.
“I think it’s sad it’s sold so many copies because it says something about our society. I don’t consider it a book product – it sells well to people who aren’t readers.”
Kneen abhors Fifty Shades’ overtly submissive female protagonist, Anastasia Steele because she’s not a powerful character. “I have a real problem with the fact that heroines like Anastasia are submissives and not in a Story of O kind of powerful way. She doesn’t want to be a submissive, which in my book means rape if someone if forcing you to do something you don’t want to do.”
On the other hand, sex shop traders inevitably adore the book and film franchise. For Fifty Shades has reportedly caused sales of sex toys and bondage and S&M gear to skyrocket both nationally and internationally.
Swedish intimate lifestyle company LELO, renowned for selling one of the world’s most expensive vibrators – a 24-carat, gold-plated number at US$13,500 a pop – has claimed its enjoyed a 400 per cent sales increase for its Luna Beads (aka pleasure beads or Ben Wa Balls) thanks to the Fifty Shades phenomenon.
Main images at top via fanpop.com; cartoon via pinterest.com; Krissy Kneen image via blogs.crikey.com.au; and final image via cinemablend.com