E. L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey” rocketed to the top of bestseller lists around the world. People snatched up the books, and its success led to two sequels. Many expected the movie’s success to mirror that of the book. It had a great opening weekend, but that does little to help its cause. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is more comical than erotic, and its story is cringeworthy.
To those unfamiliar with the story, “Fifty Shades” started out as a “Twilight” fanfiction. The story follows Anastasia Steele, an undergraduate student studying literature. When her roommate, the editor-in-chief of the university newspaper, falls ill, Steele takes over her interview with Christian Grey, the CEO of Grey Enterprises Holdings. The young billionaire takes an interest in Steele and takes every chance to see her again, including showing up at the hardware store where she works. Eventually, Grey introduces Steele to his dark side, and Steele must make a choice between dating Grey and keeping her sanity.
On the surface, this film sounds perfect; after all, what woman does not want to date a handsome billionaire? However, the problems stem from how Grey interacts with Steele. He appears out of nowhere to sweep her off her feet. Even though Steele never mentioned where she worked, there he was. He appears at a bar just in time to save her from one of her friends.
These events are creepy, to say the least, and the lack of explanation as to how he found her only adds to the discomfort. In theory, the thought of someone always there to save you is amazing, but seeing it in action is very disconcerting. Grey seems to be a stalker above anything else, and the dialogue often shows this point.
As much as the screenwriters tried to make the film a great love story, they fell short. Grey was very one-dimensional, focusing only on Steele. While his concerns for her health, among other things, sound sweet in theory, the way they were expressed was a complete turn-off.
Instead of sounding caring, Grey overstepped boundaries and made things uncomfortable. Of course, that was when the film was meant to have a level of romance. In the beginning, the dialogue was so cheesy that it was hard to take it seriously as erotica. The audience frequently burst out into laughter because it was so cliche! Certainly the screenwriters could have been more original.
Of course, a film is nothing without actors, and, sadly, “Fifty Shades” failed there as well. Many actors passed over the role, including Charlie Hunnam. A petition to get Matt Bomer as Christian Grey garnered nearly 100,000 signatures, but he was not even considered for the role. Several of the actresses who auditioned for the film weren’t even prepared for something so risque. In the end, fans had to put up with Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, who are lackluster at best. They simply didn’t have the chemistry to portray these characters well.
One of the two bright spots in the film is the soundtrack. Popular artists such as Ellie Goulding and Beyonce contributed songs that were played alongside classics such as Frank Sinatra’s “Witchcraft.” All of the songs reflect the romantic side of “Fifty Shades” and are worth a listen outside of the movie. Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do” is especially powerful in how it portrays love.
The other bright spot is increased awareness. “Fifty Shades” is well known for bringing BDSM into the mainstream. Those four letters now have some meaning to much of the population; however, “Fifty Shades” fails to tell the entire story. Most notably, BDSM focuses on three things: safe, sane, and consensual. To put it bluntly, “Fifty Shades” fails on all of these fronts. That isn’t to say that fiction should always reflect reality, but the problem arises that many people are being injured trying to act out their “Fifty Shades” fantasies. In fact, according to The Washington Post, there was a surge of patients with sex toy-related injuries following the release of the “Fifty Shades” novel in 2012. Although the movie cannot necessarily be to blame when people get injured, it is also important to realize that the media has widespread effects on the populace.
Overall, the success of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” film can only really be attributed to E. L. James’ loyal fans. This movie has little to offer a more general audience, and most men would not be caught dead seeing something this bad. Other than the soundtrack, the only positive to come from this movie is awareness of BDSM, and even then, the movie falls extremely short of showing the reality of this lifestyle. Save your money for one of the many blockbusters opening in the next few months.