Forget Frances Farmer, it's E.L. "Snowqueen's Icedragon" James who has had her revenge on Seattle for making it the setting of the worst fanfiction since "My Immortal". See James had herself a think one day: "I love Twilight, but it doesn't have quite enough misogyny and abusive control of female sexuality. I'd better crank the woman-hate up to 11 and out-Stevenie Meyer Stevenie Meyer by writing an even moar virginal, passive, blank-slate nonentity of a fauxtagonist and an even moar controlling, stalker-y, rich and powerful Real Man to grab her by the pussy because she's asking for it." And behold, it was done, and then Stormcloud's Lightningsalamander realized that catering to fetishes is big money, so she took her masterpiece down from free sites, did a Find-Replace for "Edward" and "Bella", and bob's your uncle, Britain's fastest-selling paperback of all time. And of course Hollywood sharks were drawn to the smell of green in the water, and so we get two hours of Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian "Not A Sparkly Vampire" Gray (Jamie Dornan) pretending to fuck.
That fetish, of course, is incredibly steamy, kinky
Allow me to give you a synopsis of the plot: Girl meets boy, boy demands a nondisclosure agreement and signed contract in order to fuck, girl refuses contract, boy fucks girl, boy and girl talk about fucking, boy fucks girl, boy and girl talk about fucking, boy fucks girl, boy and girl talk about fucking, boy fucks girl, boy and girl talk about fucking, boy belt-whips girl, girl leaves boy. The End.
And if you don't like all them thar f-words, don't blame me. This is the language chosen by Rainmaker's Dewhamster. Not that your old pal Carl Eusebius minds bad language. I mean, you have read this blog, right? What I do mind is writing like this: "I don't make love. I fuck. Hard." That Anastasia didn't immediately laugh and kick Christian in the jimmy upon hearing this line made me instantly lose the zero respect I had for her up until this point.
The movie is a teensy improvement over the book--how could it possibly not be--yet is somehow worse since we're watching poor Jamie Dornan trying to bring Christian "Ted Bundy" Gray to life as written. The movie even begins on him and occasionally shows things from his perspective, which is already an improvement over the book. A book, written entirely in the first-person present-tense (you know, the way I wrote fiction when I was eight), that includes such adult dialogue as "his erection, holy cow", "holy crap", "double crap", "I must be the color of the Communist Manifesto", "You. Are. So. Sweet.", "my very small inner goddess sways in a gentle victorious samba", "very varied", "He's so good at sex", "Christian's mood is almost tangible"...I could go on. At least the movie drops most of the howler lines, though it does keep "holy crap", that "I don't make love" line, and "I'm fifty shades of fucked up" (lolwut?). Still, it more than makes up for with the materialism porn, with loving shots of entire garages full of luxury cars, personal helicopters, and enormous $10,000-a-month apartments. Ladies, if a man is nothing more than a dong and a fat wallet to you, this is your movie!
I don't want to beat up on the actors too much, since both Johnson and Dornan get way more out of this crap than the script, a shockingly literal interpretation of the book, deserves. What little identification with and feeling you have for these characters is entirely due to the actors' performances. They're both at their best in the final scenes, when Ana realizes she can never truly please Christian in the sack. Which, since their relationship is based entirely on sex, kind of hurts their chances. Still, while Johnson looks like she has something behind her eyes apart from empty air and is suitably Hollywood-plain (if still disturbingly thin, such that you can see her rib cage whenever she lifts her arms over her head, eww), Dornan doesn't bring anything like the slick charm and charisma Christian is supposed to exude. Think Christian Bale in American Psycho, and you'll be thinking of a good movie instead of this junk. Book Christian's expression is supposed to turn hard and cold when he goes into his alleged scary "dominant" phase, but Dornan either doesn't try or utterly fails to convey this. I'm reminded of the opening scene in Memento, when Leonard and Teddy are talking just before Teddy's murder. Teddy is laughing at and taunting Leonard until Leonard's expression subtly changes, and both Teddy and the audience instantly know he's just reached that dark, inhuman place one has to enter in order to murder someone in cold blood. Dornan never does that, so we don't get any of the real danger the book tells us Anastasia feels. Maybe the director figured out Book Christian is a fucking psychopath every woman should avoid like a men's rights activist.
Speaking of being goddamn psycho, stop me when Christian gets scary enough for you to run away and get a thousand restraining orders:
1) After meeting you and having a conversation with you lasting all of four minutes, he finds out where you work and shows up unannounced.
2) He asks you to coffee, then says you'll never see him again.
3) Upon your drunk-dialing him, the second thing out of his mouth is "Where are you?"
4) Upon your hanging up on him, he calls back to say he's tracked your location by your cell phone and is coming to get you.
5) He actually comes to get you.
6) He gallantly takes your falling-down-drunk and then unconscious ass
7) He undresses you while you're passed out.
8) He sleeps next to your unconscious form in his bed.
9) He gets all smug and self-satisfied answering no when you ask him if he raped you.
10) His personal servant shows up with a new bra and panties set that fits you perfectly.
11) He's a billionaire who regularly eats at IHOP.
12) He's good friends with the pedophile rapist who abused him for six years and actually says to you, "I don't understand why you feel you have to demonize her."(!!)
13) He wants to watch you have a gynecological exam. Given by his personal doctor. Whom he brought to his home specifically to examine you.
14) He shakes hands with his father.
15) While visiting your mother in Georgia, you text him "Wish you were here" and he flies across the country that night to show up the next day in your hotel's lounge and then watches you there for a while before creepily revealing his presence.
16) He doesn't like Britney Spears's "Toxic".
17) You feel he's abusing you, wants to hurt you, and uses sex as a weapon against you.
Personally I'd run screaming to the cops at 1). Okay, I cheated a bit, since a few of those are from the book. But most of them, and the most egregious ones (except for hating "Toxic"), remain in the film. And so does the softcore sex. So if you want to see lots of either naked Johnson or Dornan (but not Dornan's johnson), this is your movie.
As another wonderful and actually serious movie reviewer noted in her review, the problem with this movie isn't the sex. It's not even real BDSM. For anyone who thinks it is, allow me to give you another list. Here are all the sexual acts in this movie:
Cunnilingus (these three grouped together as "vanilla")
the lightest possible bondage
beating with a belt
Now I've told my regular readers (all two of you) that my high school clique was The Gamers. So I was hardly A Goddamned Sexual Tyrannosaurus. Yet with the exception of that last one (which is the last thing that happens in the movie, after which Anastasia breaks up with Christian), I did all of these things and more in high school. I mean, when your sex life is less kinky than the high school valedictorian's, you ain't BDSM. In fact, this movie (and the book much more so) depict BDSM as deviant, wrong, a result of abuse, a trauma to be overcome. In the book Ana even talks about Christian leading her to "dark places" and speculates on whether or not she can bring him "into the light". And Christian is a terrible dominant, since he's trying to force a woman who isn't submissive into becoming so. This isn't my analysis, folks. Our, uh, "characters" say it several times, with Christian flat out stating Anastasia isn't submissive and never will be. I'm no expert on BDSM, but I'm pretty sure that's not how it's supposed to work. And these people drink fucking constantly. In almost every scene, people are drinking, very often to the point of drunkenness, and Christian routinely
Fifty Shades of Gray is an anti-feminist celebration of male privilege and female naivete and virginity, a toothless fake wannabe transgression that's so vanilla Rick James would be happy to take it home to mother. On behalf of all the perfectly normal, mentally solid, happy practitioners of BDSM, fuck this movie and the shitty fanfic it was based on.*
* Not that BDSM practitioners need me to speak for them. I just want to add my voice to the chorus.