I bet that if I were to ask the majority of the main demographic watching Fifty Shades of Grey this weekend what the acronym BDSM stands for, I would get a very unsatisfied and baffled answer. Low and behold, welcome to the world of popular culture and worldwide phenomenas for no damn good reason.
If someone were to ask me, how and why this particular novel, written atrociously by British author E.L. James became such a huge success, I wouldn’t know where to begin. Upon all the controversy, arguments and opinions about the novel and its depiction of submissive sexual culture, I guess we, as a general population, have to accept the fact that sometimes, people and certain pieces of pop culture, just get lucky for being around at the right place, at the right time.
It’s not like erotic literature or erotic novels didn’t exist before E.L. James’ novel, its that THIS particular novel caught on with readers and has become the worldwide best-seller for the simple fact that, it just did. Upon learning about my advance sneak passes to the film, I went in with the highest level of professionalism and optimism possible, but when a film knows its going to be a hit, regardless of its talent and execution on screen, you pretty well have sealed your fate in the world of film criticism.
I’m not sure if the actors and screenwriter Kelly Marcel intended for the dialogue and execution of the film to be so wooden, laughable and campy, but I guess when you are adapting a film to a novel that has been deemed unworthy of professional publication, regardless of your level of screenwriting and acting skills, you can’t do much. From the moment the screen is filled with the shaded lighting of corporate florescent bulbs in the Grey building, one cannot help but notice how little effort is put into the film’s production.
Set around one of the most conventional narrative foundations ever, Fifty Shades of Grey is your typical Romeo and Juliet love story of forbidden love. Upon learning of her friend Kate’s (Eloise Mumford) illness, Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) is forced by her best friend to cover for school newspaper’s article upcoming interview with the mysterious and intimidating business magnate Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). Once Ana and Christian meet, the two begin a steamy and sensual relationship filled with singular sexual tastes, obsession, seduction and mental and emotional pain and pleasure. Yup, thats it.
Before the film even started production, the casting process gain high media attention. Having Angelina Jolie reject directing the film, Chritian Cooke, Dominic Cooper and Stephen Amell circling the role of Christian Grey, and talented actresses Felicity Jones, Elizabeth Olsen, Imogen Poots and Shailene Woodley reportedly being considered and auditioning for the role of Ana Steele, the cast was settled with Dakota Johnson and Charlie Hunnam. Hunnam, who withdrew from the film due to a backlash of media frenzied fans who said the role simply wasn’t meant for the actor, officially abandoned the project and was replaced by Dornan. Notice how more is being written about the casting history of the film more than the plot itself?
The lead actors of the film, must have approached the role as a double edged sword of fame and credibility. For one, Johnson and Dornan are destined of becoming household names, especially with the promise of huge economic gain, given the novels already huge fan base and demands of sequels. Yet, Fifty Shades of Grey brings to question one very important question: are artists and actors, willing to sacrifice their artistic integrity for fame and fortune? I mean, how else could one describe the leads being able to learn and mesmerize their lines in only five days?
Fifty Shades of Grey did not upset me as much as I thought it would. What upsets me most about this highly questionable and overwhelmingly popular phenomena is its misuse in everyday people’s lives and the misleading conception of romance and its force for capitalist gain. Whereas, this time of year, romantic films are cleverly slotted before the Valentine’s Day week, this is one film that abandons romance and the pure notion of ‘love’ for sole monetary gain. Do people really care to be the submissive? Is there going to be a surge in toys and fetish tools thanks to the film? Quite possibly. How else do you explain an officially marketed branding of fifty shades sex toys and fetish equipment at your local sex store?
Fifty Shades of Grey is a film void of romance, as is the chemistry between its leads. Forcing to become lovers: one a submissive and one a dominant, is clearly seen between the chemistry of Johnson and Dornan. Looking more like two people exploring the world of James’ highly cliched and unoriginal imagination, Johnson and Dornan look strapped and tied to fake and cheap material within every frame. Hopefully, the scars and marks left from the production doesn’t act as a metaphorical stain for these two talented actors for the rest of their careers by being typed casted.
My biggest concern of the film is if, by forcing this popular notion of submission and dominance to young girls, charmed and enthralled by the glamorized and wholly unreal Christian Grey ever going to be taken advantage of by older, predatorily type males? What type of message does this source material and film send women who are naive, submissive, innocent and easily charmed by the erotically charged notion of rich men with high brow toys being able to get away with anything they want? Violence, language and difficult subject matters are always at the forefront of rating controversy, yet this film was easily given an R rating, when it’s message is one that needs to be taken seriously and cautiously, especially for young women.
Like any awkward, bad first date, Fifty Shades of Grey is a stiff, forced and highly unneeded film adaption that proves the general population’s ignorance and gullibility towards poorly crafted art. From its fetishization of the male and female bodies, the glorification of tame BDSM sex culture and its poorly adaptable source material, Fifty Shades of Grey is fifty shades f*cked up! Steer clear of this adaption, cause I can assure you, there is nothing enlightening here.
Night Film Reviews: 1 Out of 10 Stars (That 1 is Only There for the highly talented Dakota Johnson).
Are you rushing to see Fifty Shades of Grey this weekend or are you waiting for all the hype to die down? How are Johnson and Dornan as Steele and Grey? Does the film adaptation totally surpass your expectations or fail miserable? Leave your thoughts below, and don’t forget to tie them neatly with a bow.