Wow, it's been ages since I submitted a journal. Over the last few months I've been to see lots of movies, some of them have been pretty good (A Testament of Youth, The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, Grand Budapest Hotel to name a few) and some of them have been pretty terrible (Into The Woods, The Expendables 3, Ex Machina (bleh), some that I've blotted out, they were so bad), but high at the top of the tree of awfulness has to be 50 Shades of Grey.
You have to hand it to E L James, I don't suppose when she sat down to write 50 Shades that she had any comprehension of what she was setting in motion. How many middle aged housewives achieve such a phenomenal level of financial success when they start a piece of fan fiction, based on an original source, Twilight, that was widely derided at the time? She must think all her Christmases have come at once, but maybe there are things more significant than money and self respect is one of them.
What is it about this story that has gripped the imagination of so many women, even though it's ridiculousness on a page? There has to be more to it than extremely effective marketing and promotion, although what they have done with it is amazing and I would like to know how they did it. At heart it's a potent story of sexual obsession with thriller elements that keep the plot pacey and engage the reader's attention, but as a reader you can poke a million holes in it if you want to. Eventually the sex becomes so repetitive and annoying that you just skip over the shagging to get to the story. It could have used a lot of editing to get rid of all that malarkey. Suspension of disbelief is required in bucketloads, plus a continual reminder that it's just fantasy fluff and don't pick holes in it trying to find meaning or depth or any connection to reality. Bells ringing in my head over personal stuff on that one.
I read somewhere that E L James had quite a lot of editorial control over the movie and refused to allow any scriptwriters to improve the dialogue, which was a shame but I suppose she would have had to admit that her own was not up to the job. In the end her characters came across as dull and unsympathetic. We didn't care what happened to them and there was no sense that they even liked each other, let alone so hot for each other they couldn't wait to rip each other's clothes off. They were like strangers going at it, and whilst some people find that very hot, to the outside observer it's just weird.
Some have complained that it's about domestic violence, but S & M has its own clearly defined and agreed upon rules and is mutually consensual. Domestic violence is not. I suppose you could argue that psychological abuse could be involved in getting someone to act in a sexual way against their will, but I don't know how common that is in the S & M scene. Some have complained that the S & M elements are not very well done, and doesn't do the scene any justice. I have no personal experience of that, but in 50 Shades, the whole point is that she doesn't like that side of him, but loves him anyway and is willing to give it a try. Together they work out a mutually agreeable solution which mostly involves him giving up the whips and becoming domesticated.
I actually feel sorry for Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson for agreeing to take part in this festival of garbage, but they have to take their own responsibility for deciding to commit career suicide.
If I had been doing the casting and had a free hand to choose my Anastasia and Christian, I think I would have chosen Anna Kendrick or maybe Alicia Vikander, and a younger Matthew Mcconaughey or Ian Somerhalder. It seemed at the time when the roles were being cast that it was a poisoned chalice and no-one really wanted to do it. I admire Dornan and Johnson for having the guts, but sorry, the risk didn't really pay off. They had zero chemistry which made the sex scenes squirmy, and neither had the acting chops to imbue their roles with any depth or characterisation beyond the cheesily superficial. Admittedly they had poor material, but the film really sagged.
Will I go and see the sequel? Of course. Get with the zeitgeist, bebeh!