Sheesh this film has received a canning from some reviewers, but I reckon a lot are missing the point. This story is about the very essence of male/female relationships – control, (and sex). Who wears the pants – or in this case, who doesn’t.
It is represented here by sadomachism, something many of us can’t directly relate to, but the symbolism of it is something every woman has experienced. Who’s got the power, who is in control, and who is pushing and then creating the boundaries.
The successful, emotionally unavailable man who claims “I don’t do romance”, and wont sleep in a bed with his lover overnight, and the sexually inexperienced girl who just wants love and a relationship.
Not withstanding the main character Christian Grey is a worldly, experienced billionaire, with a trail of former lovers, and a penchant for BDSM (bondage, discipline, and sadism masochism), it is student Anastasia Steele who outsmarts him at every turn. Despite his flurry of gestures and gifts which include helicopter rides, aeroplanes, clothes, first class tickets, a computer (I’ve never seen so much Apple product placement in one film), accommodation and an Audi, she keeps a hold of who she is, and he intern falls in love. (There are themes from Pretty Woman at times.)
But back to the reviews for a second. You don’t go to Fifty Shades and expect Romeo and Juliet – this is not Shakespeare, and has never pretended to be. It’s chick-lit, and a chick-flick. It’s light entertainment.
As much as the producers have tried – and succeeded – in making an entertaining, sexy chick-flick, there are so many nuances from the book which are left out, but if you’ve read the first book like I have, you totally get it.
Like many good on-screen love stories, the film is simple, but sexy. The two actors, Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson are understated in appearance. They’re not as mind-blowingly hot on screen as expected, but it makes them even more appealing. We can fantasise that we too could be them. They’re more real and grounded in the physical sense with real bodies and faces – no botox here. But Dornan does have an incredibly muscular torso.
One big surprise is how little sex we actually see. There’s no genitalia, just backsides and boobs – and it is disappointing given the graphic sexual heights the book took us to. I mean the book is seriously sexy, it’s a turn on. It’s all about sex, and the detail is on the pages. On screen, it’s missing.
In this age of accessibility to porn, the lack of detail in the sex scenes comes as a surprise, and I felt let-down. Why wouldn’t the producers have given this film an R rating and given credibility to the book, rather than keep it at MA to attract the masses and let them down? I wanted a bit more.
But it’s still worth seeing, and there’s plenty here to learn about love and relationships. The trick is not to get caught up in all of the S&M stuff – everyone gets turned on by different things. If that’s what Christian is into, so be it. I’m not about to list the sexual demands and exploits Sydney women sit around dinner tables squealing about with their girlfriends on a Thursday night out, but what’s the difference? We’ve all got our sexual secrets, preferences and fantasies – lets not judge.
The sex is so often the easy bit when it comes to men and women, it’s the emotions that can be the biggest hurdles. As Anastasia’s mum (who is on her fourth marriage) tells her daughter: “I wish I could tell you things get easier, but you just get to know yourself better”. Anyone who has had a long term relationship can relate to that statement, and this film will certainly help you know more about what you want from love, sex and relationships.
As Shakespeare wrote, “the course of true love never did run smooth” – even if you’re a billionaire. And there’s something about that that is re-assuring to the rest of us.
There’s no doubt there will be a second instalment. I can’t wait.
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