Some friends and I met up after work Friday to see Fifty Shades of Grey. I can hear you moan (not in the good way) from over here! Let me assuage your feelings about this a bit. When the books first were released, I was in no way interested in reading them. Much in the same way I’m not interested in science fiction, gore, or any kind of violence in either the books I’m reading or the movies I watch. I tend to absorb every single detail and those details haunt me in both my waking hours and while I’m asleep. I’ve just learned over the years to not subject myself to them. That means I get to watch PG-13 and lesser ratings. Really!
So, way back when, everyone was going on and on about these books. Were they that amazing?
I started looking at Amazon reviews. Oddly enough, not many of the book reviews skipped over the fact that the series was not wonderfully written (EL James could’ve made great use of a thesaurus) or denied that there was a LOT of sex within the pages. However, after a few months, I was trying to find a new book on my Kindle and decided, what the heck, and purchased *only* the first book in the series. I felt certain it was going to be a waste of time and money.
I read the book in a matter of days and was a little let down by the ending. What happens to Ana and Christian? I needed to know! Their love story was so not over. I immediately downloaded the second book.
*Note, at this point I still don’t think I’m so invested in these that I needed to purchase the trilogy at a cheaper price.
I was in denial!
What I found intriguing about Fifty Shades was definitely not the graphic sex scenes. In all honesty, after you read one, you find them a bit gratuitous and tend to skip through them as you come to them in later chapters.
Well, I did, at least.
What was intriguing to me was the back story of Christian’s character and what I don’t hear anyone talking about- Christian’s childhood. More specifically, the way that child abuse and neglect were woven into his mind and behavior and how far reaching those affects became through adulthood. Children are supposedly resilient. But are they? Can you imagine if Christian’s story was about a real child versus a fictional character? A crack addict for a mother – who is also a prostitute – who died in his presence? Oh, and he was left there with her for four days without food, water, anything, until someone found them? And that her ‘boyfriend’ physically abused Christian by putting out cigarette butts on his chest and back? Why would anyone believe that a child who had been through this trauma would turn out anything but ‘screwed up?’
The ‘screwed up’ could have manifested in any number of ways. Maybe fortunately for society, this character’s issues played out behind closed doors, between two consenting adults (minus the Mrs. Robinson issue). He wasn’t a serial killer or a drug addict. He was a highly functioning contributing member of society who found pleasure in the only way he felt worthy- what some people refer to as abuse. And let’s talk about Ana.
Even upon learning about Christian’s predilection for BDSM, Ana didn’t turn away. I think, at least at first, it was simply a physical attraction to Christian and she was willing to listen to what he had to say about his lifestyle, almost incredulously so. As she learned more about him, spent more time with him, she was curious about his childhood and dug deep to learn more, without acting in a way that would push him away. She engaged in a ‘vanilla’ version of his lifestyle as a way to meet him in the middle. As she continues on, she slowly peels away the layers of Christian to understand what makes him tick and why. Basically, he’s drowning in a pool of self hatred and she jumps in to save him.
Wouldn’t we all want someone to love us like THAT?
You see someone at their worst and instead of being horrified or disgusted and turn tail and run, you meet them halfway and love them so intensely that you are able to bring them back to some degree of self love? You let them see themselves through your eyes. That can only be done by someone who truly loves you. Doesn’t everyone want a love like that?
(* I’m not advocating engaging in anything illegal in order to ‘meet in the middle’, I just think we all have our boundaries, and Ana chose to broaden hers in order to fully understand what made Christian tick.)
So, with all of that said, if you haven’t read the book, do so before you see the movie. The movie was not fantastic given some of the lapses detailed below, but if you’ve read the book, you can fill in some of the missing dialogue yourself. You can also (somewhat) forgive some of Jamie Dornan’s terrible line delivery by replacing it with the version you’ve envisioned in your head. I did that several times. In fact, I found myself laughing at some serious points in the movie due to his terrible acting.
Things I did not like:
* The actor who played Christian was just not right for this role. He’s attractive enough, but I don’t think he was… big enough (he looked a little scrawny, quite frankly) and he walked very stiffly. The author constantly noted how much swag Christian had, how he “lithely” moved across a room. I envisioned him as almost scary in certain situations and honestly, I felt like Ana could have taken Christian in a hot second if a fight had ensued.
Who I’d love to see in this movie? Matt Bomer from White Collar.
* The scenes where Christian and Ana meet and get to know each other were rushed in the movie. It goes from ‘hey nice to meet you’ to ‘welcome to my red room’ in a matter of minutes. The book seemed to have more detail and interaction prior to this point.
* There were scenes where Jamie Dornan delivered lines almost laughably. It was terrible at points, but Dakota Johnson saved a lot of the scenes. I think she was awesome!
* Ana has a flip phone. Why? Christian buys her a Mac and an Audi, and in the book, a Blackberry. Why did they give her a flip phone – that she used constantly – in the movie?
* Ana’s roommate Kate is written to be a blonde bombshell- men stop to stare when she enters a room. This was not the case in the movie, I’m not sure what the casting agent was thinking. She was cute, but not a bombshell type.
Things I did like:
* Dakota played Ana as a headstrong, direct woman. I loved the moments where she gave it right back to Christian, calling him out on his random absurdities, or ‘high handedness’, if you will.
* I would have LOVED it if her real life mom, Melanie Griffith had played Dakota’s mom and Don Johnson had played her step dad.
* The sets in the movie were 95% what I had imagined them to be from the book.
* The best part- that movie soundtrack was hot fire! (Go find it HERE and check out the play list!) I loved every song and thought they did an amazing job weaving the music through the scenes. The Weeknd might be my favorite new (to me) artist! He’s got 2 great songs on the soundtrack. ** I did go to Spotify to find the soundtrack after the movie (it was that good!) and was surprised to see that the remix of Beyonce’s Crazy in Love wasn’t on there. Apparently the entire soundtrack isn’t available on Spotify, only when you purchase the extended disc from Target.
If you’re considering seeing the movie, let me reiterate, first and foremost, read the book!
If you’re on the fence about seeing it, I would suggest going if the sex scenes don’t make you too uncomfortable. It’s one thing to skip over them in a book, but quite another for them to be SO LARGE in front of your face for minutes at a time. Honestly though, the scenes were a *really* watered down version of what was written. Just a lot of skin, and mostly Ana’s.
Mr. Grey will see you now.