I waffled a lot on the idea to see or not see the movie, for many of the same reasons I went back and forth on reading the books. In the sake of full disclosure, I have never read the books. Yes, I read bits and pieces here and there. It was enough for me to decide that it wasn’t the book for me. I’ve never been a huge reader of the Billionaire trope, so I let them go.
I’ve always stuck by my stance that regardless of the content in the 50 Shades books, they have done a good job in getting us talking about female sexuality. It’s okay to be a woman and like sex. It’s also okay to like something besides the missionary position once a week at the scheduled time. We don’t have to hide or lie about what we want. I think as a culture we were headed in that direction but it took a single event, a thing, a book to push everyone over the step at once.
This weekend I saw 50 Shades of Gray the movie along with the Fresh Fiction crew and a bunch of other readers. We also had a lovely couple who practice BDSM in their home lives. Afterward there was a discussion and Q&A. It was difficult to wrap my head around what I knew of the books, the movies and articulate it all in a couple minutes.
I’m hoping to do a better job here.
What I liked about the movie.
Anna. I know that in the book she was a Mary Sue and many people aren’t a fan of her. For me, she was the most likable part of it. She was curious, a bit sarcastic. Her journey in this movie takes her from a place of innocence to awareness to ownership. In the beginning all she wants is to survive finals. By the end, she knows what she wants and what she isn’t willing to stand for. Sure, there’s plenty about her that isn’t quite believable, but then there are these moments where Christian asks her why it feels like she’s saying goodbye and she replies with, “Maybe its because I’m getting in my car and leaving?”
The sex scenes were tasteful, hot and well done. It wasn’t like watching porn–which I’m all for if that’s your thing–it was hot and artistic and sensual. I will say–the guys got to see a lot of tits. Why the hell can’t I see some peen? Or at least a little more clenched butt cheeks? Men are hot. I did really dig the first play scene in the red room where he’s wearing these jeans low on his hips. Totally hot and very awesome.
The BDSM implements were quite frankly, to die for. And realistic. They really did use all the right things. And in their favor, the knots were also appropriate. The “red room of pain” is a fantasy that only exists in very rare instances. Even the fanciest, most well appointed dungeon I’ve seen doesn’t measure up to what was in the movie. I totally appreciated it though. It really built the fantasy of this box that he hid the real part of himself in.
I really liked the moments where it was Christian and Anna together. Their first intimate scene really was all about her. The few times they’re sexual prior to the kink, it’s hot and very emotional. I dug those moments of connection, where they really wanted each other. It wasn’t the contract or his masochistic needs, it was something deeper for both of them, and it was beautiful in its own way.
There was a huge stressor on the idea of consent. That it was Anna’s choice to stay and participate. I really appreciated that she was told over and over and over again that she could leave at any point if she wanted to. I liked that even when Christian wanted her to stay, he still “let” her leave.
What I had a problem with.
From the beginning it’s all about what Christian needs, his wants, how he desires things to be. The only time Anna’s needs are addressed is at the very end. There is never a moment when they sit down and talk about what she’s going to get out of all of it. It’s as if, by doing all these things to please him, she gets to hold onto his dirty laundry for a while as hers.
There’s the whole controlling factor I’m going to just say was an issue and leave it at that. We can debate and roll it around until we’re blue in the face, so there’s no point. I didn’t care for it, and that’s that.
There are kink aspects that I found problematic. *spoiler* The biggest one that bothered me was the use of the flogger when Christian uses it on Anna as she is lying down on her back. Any kind of impact implement should never be used on soft tissues, like the stomach, abdomen, etc. Those are unprotected organs. This is the kind of thing that could cause serious bodily harm. There was also no mention of aftercare. That could potentially be the biggest issue, especially since we’re dealing with a brand new submissive, new to kink person. Everything Anna is being introduced to changes her and her life, dealing with that is crucial to her well being, and it’s just not handled.
From the beginning, we see the scars on Christian and it’s pretty obvious he’s had a troubled past. People who have had trauma deserve love. But I find it problematic that we have romanticized someone who is still carrying those issues with him and how his inability to cope with what happened to him validates his needs to be cruel to others. Don’t get me wrong, masochism is not being cruel. Not addressing her needs when Anna so clearly begs him to hold her
I won’t comment on the dialogue and other nuances that I didn’t care for, because they were playing to the book and the people who loved it.
At it’s core, this is a fantasy. A love story about two different people coming to terms with their wants and desires. I love that it ended with Anna standing up for herself and telling Christian no. Call the themes juvenile or immature, and maybe they are. The fantasy of being swept away by the rich man might be the next step after the princess fantasy of our youth when we realize we can’t be Cinderella and we have to settle for something in the real world. If the movie were fact, if it were real life, I’d be all up in arms over Anna’s safety, but we’re dealing with fantasy here. And I’m okay with it as a fantasy.
So. Thoughts? Seen it? Opinions?