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Saturday, February 28, 2015

50 Shades of.... Hmmm

First things first, I have to preface everything I’m about to say with this statement: I have not, yet, read the ’50 Shades’ trilogy.  Nothing.  Not a word, not an excerpt.  Nothing but the blurbs on the back of the books.  To a certain degree I’ve even avoided reading too many reviews about the books (and the movie), though I will admit that I have read a few – some good, some bad, and even some that made me cringe.  I have my reasons for this but primarily, it’s that I didn’t really hear much of anything about the books until sometime after they were published and by then rumors had begun flying that a movie was going to be made. 
See, I’ve got this issue about books that are made into movies – especially if they’re books that I particularly like.  To me, the movies can be outstandingly well done but they just can’t rate as good as the book(s).  When I read a book the settings and scenes are built in my imagination, the characters are painted in all their glory in my fantasies, and the pages of the story flip through my mind like the frames on a reel.  I don’t need a movie to see the story, all I have to do is read it.  Yet at the same time, I do love a good movie.

So let’s get to the point...
Dakota Johnson.  Jamie Dornan.  And Fifty Shades of Grey. 

It’s been one of the most talked about movies of the year so far – for reasons both good and bad.  It’s been the topic of countless talk show segments, blogs, human and women's’ rights debates, and God knows what else.  Even I have written about it here on Ups, Downs, Ins and Outs.  It opened in theatres just before Valentine’s Day and has been leading in box office sales since, despite, or maybe because of the controversial nature of the movies content.
Still living under that rock? Here we go: The movie is about recent university graduate and incredibly innocent and naïve Anastasia Steele (played by Johnson), who meets Christian Grey (obviously played by Dornan) when she’s helping a friend out by doing an interview about him for their school newspaper.  Grey is a young, successful (to the billions) businessman, who Anastasia jokingly refers to as a “control freak” after listening to him describe himself.  Unknowingly, she’s exactly and entirely right.  Grey’s controlling tendencies in the business world follow him into his personal life, where he’s a Dominant, of the BDSM variety.  Anastasia’s innocence draws Christian like a moth to a flame and she quickly finds herself the focus of his rather intense interest.  This movie, based on the first book (of the same name) in the ’50 Shades’ trilogy, basically follows them in the beginning stages of their arrangement and relationship - as Anastasia learns about the BDSM lifestyle, especially the dominant/submissive parts of it, and Christian is forced to realize that Anastasia isn’t the only one with something to learn. 

That’s my, ha, $0.50 synopsis, and here are my feelings about it after seeing the movie.
The movie’s good.  It was decent.  For me, it was neither really great, nor completely horrible.  There are really great bits and there are some parts that appeared very awkwardly done – and surprisingly they weren’t the sexual scenes.  (I’ve read interviews done with both lead characters and both described filming the sex scenes as uncomfortable and difficult. No real surprise there.)  To be perfectly honest, the thing that sorta killed parts of the movie for me, was the lack of solid on-screen chemistry between Dornan and Johnson. The baffling part is that their connection wasn’t lacking in every scene, but ironically was missing in the scenes that should have been the simplest for them to perform. (Granted, this could be explained by the actors’ apparent dislike of each other, something I’ve also seen reported in recent weeks.) The cinematography and music were extremely well done, and the casting of the actors in their particular roles was, I believe, also well done – it’s just that somehow these things just didn’t all mesh together to make the movie that I think many of us were expecting. 

And what about those sex scenes, you’re probably wondering? After all, it was the erotic nature of the sex, the BDSM lifestyle, and the supposed “pornographic” extremes of the film that were causing the loud outcry and vast extent of debate and criticism for the movie.  In the 2 hour movie there was roughly 20 minutes of sex – and this includes everything from the most vanilla, to the most harshly erotic of the scenes.  And of the scenes depicting BDSM behaviors, these really weren’t all that extreme.  Not if you really know anything about BDSM, anyways.  Also, as the first (at least to my knowledge) movie in mainstream cinema to really broach the BDSM topic, I just don’t think they did a very good job of really depicting the way a BDSM relationship works or would work.  They tried, sure, but, to me anyways, I feel they missed more than a few key tenants of the relationship, and since a good part of the movie is supposed to be explaining a BDSM relationship/arrangement to Anastasia, I see no reason and no excuse why they should have.  My only conclusion as far as this is concerned is that the writers were either lazy or ignorant.  Or both.  There’s really no other plausible excuse.
So when all is said and done, I did like Fifty Shades of Grey – the movie, and yes, I would probably recommend it to interested and/or like-minded friends.  I may even buy it when it comes out on DVD.  But it’s not a movie I’ll pay to go see in theatres again. 

Do with this what you will.  It’s just my opinion.
... And now I’m off to read the book.

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