I went into this early screening of the movie expecting the bad story line I saw in the books, but I tried to keep an open mind and see it just as a movie, separate from the book. The silence in the theater when it ended at least assured me that I wasn't the only one uncomfortable and come on...it takes A LOT to make me uncomfortable. Anyways, here are the things I liked:
1. HAIR! We saw an awful lot of both star's bodies. Dakota Johnson, who plays Anastasia Steele, was shown to have both leg AND pubic hair! In a society that seems to be obsessed with clean-shaven women, I was impressed and excited.
2. The music was great. I had heard it had a great soundtrack, and was convinced that was true when the opening credits displayed Danny Elfman's name. If you don't know who he is, look him up. The guy is fantastic, and provided a small musical refuge away from the awkwardness of this movie.
3. Ana seems to be a bit more of a stronger female character in the movie than in the books. It's been a couple of years since I read the books, but I definitely remember her character being so insanely love sick over this man that none of his creepy characteristics seemed to bother her much. It was almost as if the producers of the movie tried to display how uncomfortable Ana was with Christian, which I really appreciated. I also think that Dakota Johnson was impressive as Ana, despite a terribly written script.
4. Condoms! Pretty much every time the two characters have sex, there is a very obvious scene with Christian ripping open a condom. Yes! Promote safe sex!
Now, on to what I didn't like, which is much, much longer.
|Johnson & Doornan as Ana Steele and Christian Grey.|
1. First things first--I didn't like the choice of actor for Christian Grey. I know that physical attractiveness is a matter of perspective, but I just did not find him to be as attractive as he should have been. I know he is supposed to be 27, but I felt he just looked too young. This is supposed to be a man who came from hard, humble beginnings. He was born to a crack-addict mother and suffered for year before being adopted by a rich family at a fairly young age. He grew up privileged and happy until he was made into an abused sex slave by a family friend at age 15. He is now the CEO of his own company. I felt he should look a bit older, more mysterious, more angry. Jamie Dornan's face is just too much of a soft, baby face. I'd much prefer Christian's brother, Elliot.
2. With that being sad, I felt NO chemistry between Johnson and Doornan whatsoever. This movie was not sexy to me. It made me want to wash my eyes out and hug my boyfriend for being a good person, not want to tie him up. The build up between the two was so forced that it made me feel uncomfortable and awkward. There was so much more chemistry between Christian's brother Elliot and Ana's roommate Kate. They had a total of three minutes on screen and I could tell their relationship was more real and healthy and less awkward and creepy.
3. Christian immediately becomes controlling and obsessive. Despite the bad things that have happened in his life, we need to remember that he is a privileged white male who owns his own company and comes from an extremely wealthy adoptive family. He even tells Ana, "I'm used to getting my own way." Here's a guy who doesn't take 'no' for an answer. That's not typical behavior of a sexual dominant--that's typical behavior of an abuser/potential rapist. The couple times Ana says no to him in the movie, he asserts his 'dominance' by finding out where she is and showing up to control her and her situation. At one point, after our wonderful main hero 'saves' the damsel in distress at a bar where she was drinking with friends, Ana asks him, "Christian, why am I here?" To which he responds, "You're here because I'm incapable of leaving you alone." YIKES.
4. Mind games! Ugh, this movie is all mind games. Trust me, I understand them, I had a high school sweetheart, I know how to play. Christian claims he "doesn't do romance," and then picks Ana up in expensive cars and drives her to his personal helicopter to show her the city. He sends her first edition books, buys her a car for her graduation, and sends her balloons attached to wine bottles. Yeah, that's not confusing at all. He claims he only wants the dom/sub relationship, and there will be no negotiating. Ana IS allowed, however, to set limits for herself, and he so graciously agrees to take her out on a date once a week if she agrees to his terms. When she says she needs more, he says it's all or nothing, leaving Ana crying and questioning the whole relationship.
5. CONSENT. Oh my gosh, Christian lacks the meaning of consent. Yeah, he asks Ana to sign a contract agreeing that she is okay with all of his 'rules.' But he frequently shows up where he's not invited and takes control over her without asking if he can even do so. The worst part is the day after they meet for the first time, Christian suddenly appears at Ana's place of employment--a hardware store. He has her walk around the store with him while listing off things he needs--rope, masking table, cable ties. He's making her a part of his sexual narrative without her knowledge or consent, which is insanely wrong and creepy.
6. Christian explains that he is into hurting people because he was a sex slave for a friend of his mother's from age 15-21. He claims she is still a friend. Ana says "Mrs. Robinson" is a child abuser. They portray someone who is into certain sexual kinks as someone who was abused and as a result, now likes to abuse others. So. Wrong. Ugh, it's sad.
Basically, I felt like I was a shadow in someone's sad, abusive relationship. It was kind of a like a boring soft-core porno with an angry guy and a crying girl. This movie just puts a clear image to everything that is wrong with these books. Everyone needs to remember that these books were written by a TWILIGHT fan-fiction fan. Remember Edward? Remember how creepy and controlling he was? Ana and Christian are not in love. Their relationship is a totally abusive one, and Ana is trapped. In the few times she has tried to leave, he doesn't let her. She tells him she's done, and he shows up in her room and has sex with her. While in the midst of sex, he asks her to reconsider. Of course she's going to agree to what he asks her during sex, her mind is clouded by lust.
If this movie makes people go out and buy chains and whips and blindfolds, that's amazing. It's exactly what our society needs, which is sexual openness. But the way it's unfolding is not the way it should. This movie was not supposed to be our platform. If anything, I'm afraid this will take us backwards. How many people out there think that people who are into BDSM are only that way because they were abused? Christian has a bad day and then beats Ana, claiming he "needs" it. True BDSM fans would never enter into a play situation in a bad mood, because that's not what a dom/sub relationship is. It is NOT one-sided. It is a mutual kink between two people in a sexual or otherwise relationship. Christian Grey is NOT a Dominant. He is an abuser. Please, please, please, if you take anything away from this movie, let it be that.
Just google '10 relationship red flags." I'm not going to list all of them. I just want you all to know that every flag is present with Christian Grey. Ana mistakes her fear and confusion for love and lust. Ana is not turned on by the things Christian does to her. She does them because they make HIM happy. He is a manipulative incubus. She asks him at one point what she gets out of their 'play time' and he responds, "Me." Well, no self-esteem problems there, Mr. 50 shades of fucked up.
This book is great in that it is getting everyone talking about relationships and sex. That's what we need! A national dialogue about what is pleasurable to us and how to get it. It should also include consent, respect, and knowledge of the subjects. We need to take the basic fundamentals of these books and research them to gain the actual knowledge. The BDSM scene is so much bigger than most people realize. The dom/sub relationship is characterized by mutual pleasure and trust. Dominants and submissives engage in play together because they enjoy taking and receiving sexual gratification, not pain and release of anger. What people also don't realize is how this movie will likely attach a negative stigma to such a large important group. It's crazy that in our society, we can't even teach kids the proper way to have sex or gain birth control, but we can release a movie about sexually abusive control freaks. In this amazing article by Emma Green on theatlantic.com, puts it perfectly,
"In an interview, Esther Perel, a sex therapist and the author of Mating in Captivity, said, “I find it amazing that this country at this point is going to spill quantities of ink talking about Fifty Shades, when it doesn’t even have a basic education on sex. It’s like you’re introducing alcohol to people who haven’t had any water in years.”
But that's exactly why it's so important to pay attention to the Fifty Shades fantasy."
We now have tons of lonely housewives and single mothers talking about bondage with each other when they won't even talk to their kids about safe sex for fear that they'll start having it. This book and movie needs to be a wake up call to our culture's closed eye-closed mouth approach to sex. We need to be communicating with each other about our sexual preferences and how to approach the interests of others in a safe and healthy way. By no means should anyone take this movie seriously. Take the basic idea of kinky sex and throw out the rest. Early ratings on IMDB are giving the movie a 3.2/10. I'm inclined to completely agree.
If you have any input or questions, please comment below.