The one thing I never thought I would miss whilst watching Fifty Shades of Grey was an ‘Inner Goddess’.
Like many in 2012 I jumped with both feet onto the bandwagon and into E L James’ ‘Red Room of Pain’ to discover just what all the fuss over Christian Grey was really about.
Then two or three chapters in I was almost appalled to find that I enjoyed reading the smutty little best seller on my morning commute. Relived that I’d had the good sense to use my kindle rather than openly admitting to buying my piece of the madness, I was even more thankful when I found that I couldn’t put it down. I even began to make peace with the naïve representation of BDSM: Anna, mostly tied to a bed with poor sentence structure.
Yes there were moments when E. L. James made me want to boil up in rage with my own Inner Goddess crying out ‘Use a fact checker God damn it! A Helicopter pilot would never say ‘Over and Out!’ But for a reason I still find myself chewing, or biting my lip over, I read all three books in close secession.
So it made sense that on Friday 13th I would be at my local theatre house ready for the first showing of the day to complete my own filthy obsession with Christian and Anna.
I don’t know about you, but for me to lust after on screen sex, I need a story to go with it. I need there to be a reason to watch, a reason to root, a will they won’t they, need to grit my teeth in anticipation. Finally uncoiling in pleasure as the big juicy pay off finally… comes.
I think this vital link between lust and love for the characters and the story which plays out for them is Anna’s internal monologue. In the book it was annoying, but somehow translated onto screen, it was sorely missed.
I felt a real lack of connection and care for the characters. Sure, a plot which centres around a sadist's sole goal to be ‘getting the girl’ is already unrealistic. But, when we are invited into the film world we are invited into a set of rules different to those in our own. It’s the director, Sam Taylor-Johnson’s, job then to make sure that each rule is believed and remains constant for the audience. For me this was a few inches too short. I never wholly believed or rooted for anyone. Which as you can imagine makes for some pretty dry sex scenes.
That said, the film follows suit with the book’s simple competence, never trying to be more than the flimsy fantasy it promises. But, considering the clunky dialogue Fifty Shades is largely well acted by both Dornan and Johnson who are brought to life beautifully, in Christian’s unromantic grey world, by cinematographer, Seamus McGarvey
For me at least Jamie Dornan is, every full thrusting inch, my Christian Grey. Hard and unwavering, exercising control in every aspect of life. Opposite him, Dakota Johnson is a much-welcomed juxtaposition, to Dornan’s icy façade and not nearly as annoying as the Anna I read. Possibly because as the woman in the film with her clothes off, it was refreshing to see, she still found moments of pause to laugh at the ridiculousness of Christian’s and indeed James’s world. Throughout I felt she was on my side.
But still something felt a little stiff (pun intended, as always)
I think much like first time sex with an old friend, the hype got in the way of the climax. Fortunately, Fifty Shades is still very much the Fifty Shades one would expect. You go in wanting to see the ridiculous, teen fiction inspired piece, which is exactly what you get.
There are no shocks, there are some thrills, but mostly I was quite excited to catch a glimpse of what I will refere to as Jamie Dornan’s ‘Top o peen’. Now there's feminist leap forward for film.