FIFTY SHADES OF GREY IS NOT THE WORST MOVIE EVER

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY IS NOT THE WORST MOVIE EVER

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I have seen a boatload of shitty movies and Fifty Shades of Grey is not one of them.

Over the weekend I grew angry as people tried to label this as one of the “worst” movies they have ever seen. I’ve devoured my fair share of articles that offer some deeper viewpoints on the film but overall people seem quick to judge. More importantly, people appear to be having a hard time separating the novel from the film.

I haven’t read any of the books nor do I have any intention of doing so. I used to be conflicted about my lack of interest in the literary arts. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked out of a movie thinking I should read the book. Then I came home and saw that one of the movies on my Netflix DVD queue was streaming and realized reading is for suckers. I used to be conflicted by this but now, especially after seeing Fifty Shades of Grey I’m glad I stick to one medium.

I am able to see Fifty Shades of Grey for what it is only in terms of the film itself. I walked in with no expectations or preconceived notions about what type of “unhealthy” relationship I would see portrayed on screen.

For those that aren’t aware here is a brief synopsis of the movie courtesy of IMDB:

Literature student Anastasia Steele’s life changes forever when she meets handsome, yet tormented, billionaire Christian Grey.

Mr. Grey is also very into BDSM and wants Anastasia to sign a contract consisting of various rules before they do the nasty. He ends up breaking this rule and we watch her struggle with the decision to sign his contract as she delves deeper into his world and he delves deeper into her. Pun intended.

While doing some online research on the reaction to this film I came across what is known as the “infamous tampon scene” from the novel. You honestly have to read this:

His breathing is ragged, matching mine.

“When did you start your period, Anastasia?” he asks out of the blue, gazing down at me.

“Err… yesterday,” I mumble in my highly aroused state.

“Good.” He releases me and turns me around.

“Hold on to the sink,” he orders and pulls my hips back again, like he did in the playroom, so I’m bending down.

He reaches between my legs and pulls on the blue string… what! And… a gently pulls my tampon out and tosses it into the nearby toilet. Holy fuck. Sweet mother of all… Jeez. And then he’s inside me… ah! Skin against skin… moving slowly at first… easily, testing me, pushing me… oh my. I grip on to the sink, panting, forcing myself back on him, feeling him inside me. Oh the sweet agony… his hands clasp my hips. He sets a punishing rhythm – in, out, and he reaches around and finds my clitoris, massaging me… oh jeez. I can feel myself quicken.

“That’s right, baby,” he rasps as he grinds into me, angling his hips, and it’s enough to send me flying, flying high.

Whoa… and I come, loudly, gripping for dear life onto the sink as I spiral down through my orgasm, everything spinning and clenching at once. He follows, clasping me tightly, his front on my back as he climaxes and calls my name like it’s a litany or a prayer.

“Oh, Ana!” His breathing is ragged in my ear, in perfect synergy with mine. “Oh, baby, will I ever get enough of you?” he whispers.

Will it always be like this? So overwhelming, so all-consuming, so bewildering and beguiling. I wanted to talk, but now I’m […]

I was quite puzzled. Not by the tampon and sex thing, I mean if that’s what gets you hot more power to ya. I was perplexed that this was the source material that gave us the film version of Fifty Shades of Grey. I sat at my computer trying to imagine the characters I was introduced to on screen uttering these lines or even having these thoughts. Oh Ana? That’s right, baby? No, no. These are not words the Christian Grey I was introduced to would ever say.

Not to mention Anastasia’s thoughts from above. Oh the sweet agony? Oh jeez? This is just one scene from the novel but presents a clear representation that the film tried to reach for something more than the book. What’s that old saying? Don’t judge a film by the reputation of its source material?

Our society is dominated by the internet and right now the internet is focused (among other things) on feminism and women’s issues. On a daily basis I feel like I am being told what to be offended by or what I should be concerned with as woman. For example, I should be concerned that movies are not being made with a strong female lead. I should also be REALLY offended if somebody tells me I throw like a girl, but I digress.

fifty-shades-grey-movie-trailerHello? Internet? Are you there? It’s me Alex, and I have a strong female lead for you. Anastasia may be a clueless virgin at the beginning but Dakota Johnson plays her in a way that suggests she’s much smarter than that chick having a tampon gently pulled out of her. She is goofy yes, but still has a good head on her shoulders. As I said the movie focuses mainly on her struggle to sign a contract that enters her into a dominant/submissive relationship. When Christian learns she is a virgin he doesn’t waste any time “rectifying” that situation. Yet, he has hard rules that he won’t sleep in the same bed as her or go out on dates. Over the course of the film she is able to change his mind on more than one occasion. As much as he thinks he is controlling her on some level she learns what makes him tick and turns the tables.

Their relationship is not nearly as destructive in the film as many would lead you to believe. The representation of their relationship in the novel may be problematic but that does not mean the film followed suite just because they have the same title. There are some people that believe any pain inflicted during sex is abuse and their minds will already be made up. However, we live in a time where there are people devoted to constantly asking for an open dialogue about everything. Yet, it seems that the movie Fifty Shades of Grey is off the table when it comes to having an open mind or dialogue.

Fifty Shades of Grey

Rather than abuse the film (sadly) promotes the idea that women can change men. Apparently, all the wounded brooding hot billionaires out there are just fixer uppers waiting for a good contractor in the form of a vagina.

Fifty Shades of Grey does fall into the clichés that any movie of its ilk would. Anastasia has shoddy bangs, which supposedly make her less attractive and quirky. Her clothes are frumpy and she’s a little fidgety. Christian Grey definitely exhibits stalker behaviors that are over looked because he is hot AF. However, the movie is incredibly self-aware and never allows itself to get too serious.  At some point Christian Grey actually says things like he is “fifty shades of fucked up” and would like to fuck Anastasia into the middle of next week. Come on people, lighten up a little.

I think those that either read the book or had an “idea” of what it was about expected to walk out of the film seeing some version of soft-core porn with whips and chains. Well you’d be disappointed if that’s what you hoped for. The sex scenes are steamy enough but nothing compared to something you would find in an indie movie. For example, the sex in Shame (2011) is much worse. Rather than the sex scenes, the most memorable scene is where Anastasia and Christian sit across from each other at a conference table going over the contract. They do this in great detail. Will she or won’t she do anal fisting? What are anal beads? It’s the first time we see her research on BDSM pay off as she uses the terms “hard limit” and “soft limit” with such ease.

It’s clear how well she has researched every detail in the contract as she firmly directs Christian to each section that bears discussion. But you’re right, she’s just a dumb girl that can’t see past Mr. Grey’s slick moves and chiseled abs.

While it may be a R-rated feature Fifty Shades of Grey is a mainstream cinematic release that has it’s two lead characters looking each other in the eye sharing their sexual wants and needs. That kind of sounds like an open dialogue to me.

The film shattered a box office record this holiday weekend that was previously held by Valentines’ Day (2010). You know that movie where EVERYBODY you know is in it so you have to see it?

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A film that openly talks about sex has over shadowed one of the most watered down romantic comedies of our time. This is an important step culturally. People seem to wonder why women were so drawn to these books when it portrayed like such a toxic relationship. You want to know why? People are kinkier than we give them credit for. No matter how far we have come there are still those that turn green at the thought of discussing sex openly.  Yet, we get to watch a strong female setting her sexual boundaries with her partner. Sure, it may be through the world of BDSM but at least IT’S SOMETHING. I can’t tell you how many people squirmed at these sorts of encounters throughout the film. Why are they squirming? This should be a conversation every couple has at some point so you aren’t left in you twilight years wondering what you could have tried.

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I also watched a movie this week called Two Night Stand (2014) where a young male and female have a one night stand. Due to extreme weather they are forced to stay in one apartment for 24 hours after their sexual rendezvous and hi-jinks ensue. That movie isn’t great either but it’s also not the worst. There is a point where they both go over what each person could work on in terms of their approach to sex. Again, it’s a candid discussion that is eye opening for each of them.  Neither of the films have particularly revolutionary writing but at least it’s a refreshing step in the right direction. Sex doesn’t have to be scary and for those that say it’s not all that matters you need to wake up. It’s not all that matters but it’s freaking important.

Fifty Shades of Gray

Fifty Shades of Grey is directed by a female (Sam Taylor-Johnson) and she has no qualms about making that known. If you would like to see something interesting take a peek at the Rotten Tomatoes reviews. Most of them are horrible given this is sitting at 26% but the favorable ones are mostly female. The film is made with care in a way that screams all things female. Rather than taking BDSM to a level of T&A that might appeal to a male we get scenes of Jamie Dornan eating toast in a way that kind of makes you audibly “Ohh” and “Ahhh”. I can’t imagine a male appreciating toast the way I did watching this movie.

When a boob appears on screen it’s not just to have a boob in your face. The camera shows Anastasia’s body in a sensual artistic way with an emphasis on the slightest touch. To be fair, there are a few thrusts here and there.  But, ultimately Taylor-Johnson chooses to go the route of close-ups and focus on things that may not particularly resonant with the male persuasion. There is a scene with an ice cube I was especially fond of, but I’ll leave it at that.

I’ve seen Blue is the Warmest Color (2013) and I know what happens when a male director is left to his own devices. I’ll never get those 10 minutes of my life back.

I will say spoilers ahead as I’m about to completely ruin the ending of the movie for anyone that hasn’t seen it. The real clincher in talking about how the film adaptation doesn’t promote a negative, controlling relationship lies in the last scene when Anastasia leaves Christian.

Film Title: Fifty Shades of Grey

After a devastating realization that she and Christian may not exactly be an appropriate match both mentally and sexually Anastasia decides to walk away.  She approaches the elevator of his sleek apartment as he chases after her and says her name to which she firmly replies, “No!” He immediately stops and the look on his face suggests he knows not to take one more step towards her. I know this is cheesy folks, but I actually felt a bit of a shiver when this happened. While watching the film we saw Christian slowly start to give way to his desire for her but it wasn’t until that moment that he seemed truly like putty in her hands. Oh, how the might have fallen.

So let me get this straight, I’m supposed to believe this promotes a sick twisted relationship? I don’t buy it.

I find it hard to come to terms with the idea that Fifty Shades of Grey is the film we all need to gang up on. No, it’s not a great movie but it certainly doesn’t come close to the worst I have seen. And while it could definitely use some work the effect it will have on movies to come is not to be overlooked. This movie made a crap ton of money so there will be more like it. For those that wanted something more extreme in the sexual department I imagine it’s on the way.

Before seeing the movie I was at dinner with a couple from an order generation. When they found out what I was going to see the male said “Oh, isn’t that the one about the guy who beats the girl.” It’s questions like that which cause me to facepalm. This is how I feel most people viewed this movie from the start whether they had read the book or not. They are so afraid of the unknown (the BDSM world, etc.) that instead of researching or merely not having an opinion on something they know nothing about they revert to negative extremes.

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The film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey is not about some dude that beats a woman. If anything, it’s a movie about obsession and the nature of control. This movie should be a lesson we can all learn from that just because we have “heard” about something doesn’t mean we know the whole truth.