Most provocative daydreams are often of contractual agreements. That “come-hither” aura exuded from ink on paper, revoking sexual and emotional freedoms is an unsurpassable fantasy. Wait, what?
Fifty Shades of Grey, the poorly written, housewife-wide phenomenon-turned-movie is a muddled tale of a college girl falling for a manipulative and damaged man, Christian Grey. Mr. Grey will take you on a helicopter ride to his penthouse and then ask you to sign a non-disclosure agreement because he has a play room filled with naughty bits of leather and locks.
The focus of the novel, released in 2012, is a graphic depiction of what is described as BDSM to the millions of women who giggle to themselves at the bookstore checkout, eager for a sexual awakening. But nothing about this storyline stands out. Yet somehow, the mainstream caught on and turned a mediocre soft-core porn into a sensationalized portrayal of a lifestyle and community being inaccurately depicted.
Actors Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson (Melanie Griffith’s 25-year-old daughter), illustrate the characters as best as one could. Christian’s feels stiff, with forced chemistry, though Dakota’s portrayal of Anastasia is raw and vulnerable (perhaps due to the ample nudity). A sought-after role, casting a fresher face as the lead gives the movie a step in the direction of a dark independent drama, yet the blockbuster hype, million dollars-worth of budget, and weak dialogue overshadows what could have stood alone as a real story of dominance and submission.
The two-hour movie starts off well-paced and escalates dramatically to the finale, which is intense and abrupt– a parallel to the relationship between Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. We are able to see the progression of how one could destroy another. This isn’t consensual submission; it is abuse. Anastasia is forced to choose between leaving a man she believes she loves, or staying and giving him what he wants — at her own sacrifice. We see her struggle with her needs, blinded by the idea of what Christian could be, believing the mystery and games are exciting. We learn that Christian has scars of his own, but that fact is not highlighted enough to alter the perception of his character or the plot. Anastasia is seduced, literally and emotionally, and consequently trapped in a world of luxurious submission, abiding by a man’s imposed “rules”, accepting extravagant gifts and calling him “Sir”. Spoiler alert: They do not live happily ever after.
This is not a sexy story.