As controversial as this movie has been, I personally was really excited to see it. I read the books and was a fan. And I was interested to see how the film adaption was going to work.
The decision to read the books started off as wanting to just see what the whole hype and hoopla were about. But it basically put me in a weird coma of not being able to put the books down until I finished the trilogy. I can’t say that I would want to put myself through that again, though. It kind of consumed my life. And I’m not going to lie, it was kind of weird. I was like a zombie. Haha. I finished all three books within a pretty short amount of time, and I’m not a reader, so there’s that.
The ideas that this is considered “mommy porn” or just straight up “porn” are not lost on me. I get it, I’m aware of the criticism. And having people ask “Ew why are you reading that?” was a question I think everyone of us got while reading it. Shut up and read whatever it is you do or don’t read and leave me and my E.L. James alone. 😉 Again I do get it though, it’s about sex…which I guess in the reading form is so taboo and unheard of for some people! Shocker.
But there is a story here. It may be bizarre and unrealistic but it’s there. That’s what storytelling has the power to do; take you outside of your comfort zone and drop you into a world unlike your own. Now don’t get me wrong reading those books I was definitely uncomfortable at times, I definitely cringed A LOT and the writing was rather, how do I put this delicately not professional. But who am I to judge. It’s a book to read just to read, to enjoy. I didn’t want to really have to rack my brain to understand the plot. If I’m going to actually read at all, it’s going to be something that’s a quick, easy read. Needless to say a whole lot of “What did he just say to her?” “What did he just do to her?” were thought throughout the reading of this trilogy. But there was something about it that made me want to read the rest of their story. I knew that it couldn’t have just been that, I knew there had to be more behind his cold steely gaze and her naïve innocent eyes.
A few of my friends were reading along too, but one of my friends and I were literally obsessed and would have conversations about the books every time we saw each other. It was all we could talk about. I don’t know what that says considering it’s a BDSM themed storyline, HA! The way I see it, was that was just the niche; something to hook attention. When you read on you realize why Christian Grey is the way he is, and it eventually snowballs into a love story between him and the young and slightly naïve but mouthy Anastasia. No pun intended, I swear. It’s an extremely unconventional love story, but a love story none the less. And I’m a sucker for a love story. And I challenge you to give me a story that I can’t find the love story within. Because I will find it. Call me a hopeless romantic, I’ll take it.
Christian Grey is a wealthy businessman, he’s gorgeous and has a severe control streak in him. Anastasia Steele is the “Plain Jane” esque college student looking for herself and just trying to make it to graduation. Sounds pretty familiar. She’s relatable, she’s your average girl. But she also doesn’t know what she’s capable of. She comes in and basically throws Christian’s rule book and need for control back in his face. She often challenges him every chance she gets. But yet he can’t seem to stay away from her, and she doesn’t want him to. What can I say I’m a sucker for a story where the female character changes the male character for the better. Not sure that actually happens in real life, but let’s just pretend that it does.
When I heard they were making the movie for this, I was invested. I wanted the casting to be done right. You only get one shot, to get it right onscreen. The first movie will pave the way for the next two; hence there are 3 books total. This is the first trilogy I’ve read. I wasn’t a twilight groupie (although I’ve seen the films, the first one is the only one I actually liked) and as for things like the Hunger Games and Harry Potter, I pretty much just stuck to the film versions there too. Although I will say The Hunger Games films are BOSS. But this, this was different. This is something I’ve read and I’ve crafted images, and faces in my mind. And I wondered if what I saw would come to life and reach my expectations. Hearing the casting and who was up for the roles, I was definitely hoping they would pick actors that would get it right. I was skeptical of both Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson at first but I was pretty much sold when I saw the trailer. And now after seeing the film, I was incredibly impressed. And I couldn’t fathom anyone else playing those roles.
All the reviews were mixed as per usual. But I’m someone who never listens to reviews. If I wanna see a movie, I’ll see it. I want to judge for myself. I also have been one to have crappy taste in movies, I love an array of movies ranging from gems like “The Notebook” to the Mariah Carey flop “Glitter.” I actually did love that movie and still do. Fun fact; as a kid I was oddly obsessed with Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” record, I actually has it on vinyl.
Many critics were bashing the subject matter, which I totally get. But what I don’t quite understand is the idea that the two actors didn’t have chemistry. I’m sorry but that’s a load of bull. Within the first scene they had together, which is the simple school newspaper interview scene where a nervous, and clumsy Anastasia literally falls into Christian’s office on behalf of her roommate who just so happens to be sick, you immediately see they have a connection, and they play it off well. You can feel it. He’s frustrated by her lack of preparation for the interview but yet intrigued by her nervousness and insecurity. You can tell she’s unaware of her effect on him and she is intimidated by his overpowering in depth Christian like stare.
Dornan and Johnson became their roles. The film at times, is surprisingly witty, and playful. Which is a great balance to the intensity of the sexual tension created between these two characters.
Cinematically I think director Sam Taylor-Johnson really captured the world. The colors of grey used matched the title. As Seattle was often cast in clouds and rain. The weather reflected the emotion in the story, the emotional roller coaster Ana and Christian have gone through in their very short time they’ve known each other. But yet the tender moments were greeted by bright shiny sun rays or quiet still nights.
The Charlie Tango scenes were amazing and makes you rethink what the description of date really entails nowadays. Flowers and candy my ass! Although no, seriously I’d probably have a panic attack in a helicopter, so I’ll stick with the basics. 😉
The portrayal rings very true to the book, which I was really excited to see. As a writer I couldn’t imagine how difficult and nerve wracking it must have been for E.L. James to hand her work over to someone else to tell visually. That’s something that completely terrifies me about this industry. These images are in your head and your heart. You spend time with the characters you know them and to trust someone with them, to trust them to get it right, is like handing your baby over to a stranger and walking away. There’s a phrase a professor of mine used to say when we would talk about the editing process of writing she would say “it’s like killing your babies.” Which I feel is true in this situation too. Giving up creative control is a difficult thing.
The settings were very well portrayed too. Christian’s business is very clearly envisioned, with the blonde staff dressed in their sleek suits, makes Ana feel underdressed and out of place. Christian’s home is spot on, the isolation, the clean cut modernized feel. The grand piano. It’s all there. And Ana’s quaint college apartment and simple run down car are all there too. The Christian Grey look he gives Ana, that makes her knees tremble amongst other things, is dead on. It’s icy, intrusive, and H-O-T, hot. The security blanket need for Ana to bite her lip in times of discomfort is well showcased too. And I feel neither character trait was too overdone. In the books it gets to be redundant because well books have more time and space for elaboration. But the film portrayed our beloved characters well. To see it all come into place was really cool and really exciting.
Jamie Dornan IS Christian Grey, watching him was like being in my own head while reading the book. He owned the role. And Dakota Johnson shines as Anastasia Steele. I really appreciate her portrayal, because she plays it with integrity and an heir of sassiness. Anastasia is whisked away into Christian’s world and it often seems like she’s just letting him control her, which as a feminist makes me want to slap the stupid out of her. His whole “You are mine” spiel makes me want to slap the stupid out of him to. A woman’s security and sexuality, is determined by her and only her. It isn’t tied to a man, and vice versa. Every human being is there own. Free will and control of oneself is something that everyone should have and it should never be taken from them warranted or not. But Ana deep down in her gut knows that and she does challenge him. She says no when she doesn’t want something, she negotiates, she “disobeys” for lack of a better word, his contract. She understands how insane all of this is. And yet she’s intrigued, she’s fascinated. In a lot of ways Ana is the moral compass of the film. She often asks the questions the audience wants to know the answers to. Why is he like this? Why can’t she touch him? Why won’t he just let her in? Again she is relatable.
The music enhances the theme. There are playful moments, and there are moments of tension, angst, wonder, and sensuality. But what I also really liked about the film was it knew when there was no need for a soundtrack at all. It allowed for quiet and stillness, and for the words to just linger in the air. For the comfortable and tension filled moments to just build and boil over.
*** “Earned it”- The Weeknd *** “Love Me Like You Do“- Ellie Goulding
One of my favorite scenes had to be the hardware store scene, where Christian makes his first attempts in “stalking” Anastasia. If you read the books, you get what I’m referring to, if you haven’t get on that. The irony of her helping him choose the right cable ties, masking tape and rope is hilarious. No Ana, he’s not redecorating. You really have no idea what he actually uses these things for. But we do and that feeling makes for hysterical storytelling.
I also love the elevator scene. I think this was probably the scene I was most excited to see portrayed, because it’s the first time you see Christian kind of throw caution to the wind, and forget about rules and contracts and just follow his emotions. And Anastasia’s reaction is pretty hysterical (you’ll see).
Now let’s talk about those explicit sex scenes. Granted she is completely nude. And he is pretty close to full frontal at times, not quite but close. I’m guessing they’re saving that for the next film. HA! However, given the explicit content and due to the usage of the occasional f bomb, the nudity was way less than I thought it would be and they managed to stay true to the story within the restraints of an R rating. For an rated R film and for the subject matter I thought it was tastefully done, it could have been much more gritty/risky and much sluttier for lack of a better word. I’ve seen movies where the sex scenes are way more explicit than this. Yes she is nude, yes you see everything, but if you read the books or have heard the hype you know this. I went into the film knowing to not get too caught up in what I wanted it to be. I had a gut feeling it was going to be portrayed well. And I was impressed, how well done it was. I don’t know how to explain it. I mean how tasteful can bdsm sex scenes really be right? But for me I just felt like it could have been way more off the charts, but it wasn’t, which I appreciated. Whereas in the books you almost grow tired of how often they have sex, it becomes annoying and overwhelming until it’s underwhelming. So I think that the movie created just enough of it all to keep us interested in wanting more films. And what an ending. Damn those cliffhangers!
I’ll admit there were some corny bits, here and there, but the book is written casually. So I expected this. It’s a strange subject matter though I mean reading the books I was so pissed at how she would submit to him. As a feminist I was really disgusted by that, but I understood the allure. I guess I could vaguely understand her attraction to, and wanting to explore his world. There’s a certain intrigue. This rich- buys you anything you need- gorgeous, powerful man, wants her and it makes for a difficult reason to say no. Which is exactly why I bought the ticket and every other person part of the 300 million dollar profit, bought the ticket. It’s no secret that sex sells. We know this.
At the heart of the story there is a budding love that is happening, and I think going into the film you have to take that and keep it in your mind. Everything else, all the bdsm stuff take it with a grain of salt. It’s in the moments where he’s overprotective and worried about losing her that I get caught up in. This is more than a power struggle, this is someone falling in love, but not understanding what to do with it.
So now that I’ve rambled on forever, to sum things up I really enjoyed it, the actors killed it, the director killed it and it was overall and good film. I’m definitely looking forward to the next two films.
I mean after that cliff hanger, I can’t wait!
Oh and just in case you were wondering this article pretty much sums
up every girl’s rollercoaster ride of emotions while watching this film!
What was your take? Are you or aren’t you a fan? Did you like the film adaptation?
*I do not take credit for any images, or videos used*