Usually I try to keep my reviews on here somewhat professional and devoid of ranting and vulgarity. But for this movie, I’m going to say fuck it.
WARNING: Vulgarity and rants ahead! (I probably should’ve put the warning before I said “fuck it”). Fuck it.
I guess I’ll get right into it and say that this film is garbage. Is that too bold a statement? I don’t even care. I read part of the Fifty Shades of Grey book written by E.L. James. She’s a master with words, really, I think after about the 30th phrase involving this thing called an “inner goddess,” I wanted to off myself. Bravo to those who can actually get through this juvenile insult to literature. Why was this woman published, again? Oh right, because confused women love reading stories about abusive rich men (or vampires) who only show their softer side to one woman, and that’s apparently called “love” or something. So if I hated the book then why’d I see it? Well, I was fucking curious.
It’s okay, I get it. I’m a girl and I sometimes get confused too. But let me tell you a little something I’ve learned from that confusion about “love.” As someone who has been on the receiving end of douchebag behavior plenty of times, this bullshit is not love, it’s not “romantic,” and it sure as shit is not erotic. I don’t know much about the world of BDSM, so I won’t even go there, but something tells me this is an insult to people who practice it.
The whole story is built on the fact that Christian (Jamie Dornan) is this screwed up soul, and for whatever reason, he can only feel intimacy through being a “dominant” with his “submissive.” Well if that’s the story, then why is the sex so tame? Where’s all the sex toys, and the whips, and the…oh right, Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) doesn’t like that stuff. She’s a virgin! A pretty, virginal college student who works at a hardware store, doesn’t have a computer, and uses a flip phone! Imagine that. So this deeply disturbed predator sniffs out this virgin and decides he wants her to be his new submissive. Because he’s good looking and rich, of course the virgin is going to consider it, I mean, why not? He buys her a computer, a new car, flies her in his helicopter (yup, he’s rich and he knows how to fly), who wouldn’t consider getting flogged by that, right? Right!? Um…guys…
When it comes down to it, this movie isn’t about BDSM at all, what it’s really about is this unhealthy, controlling relationship she gets sucked into with this head case of a man. The worst part about it is, that she realizes at multiple points in the film that she willingly allowed herself to fall so deep into this mess, and there’s just this sad hopelessness in her eyes when she knows the situation is unlikely to change. Now I have to get off topic for a second and give credit to Dakota Johnson, because she really was the best part of this film. She seemed like a real person and not this stupid caricature E.L. James wrote her as.
Anyway, it’s really the fact that this story is trying to pass off an abusive relationship as romantic that bothers me. I’m not even talking physical abuse. There’s little of that here, believe it or not, plus the physical stuff that does happen is all stuff she seems to enjoy. It’s the mental abuse. The mind games and the control are what I find messed up. She makes it pretty clear she’s not into all this freaky stuff, and that she’s a romantic who would rather go out on dates and have the “flowers and hearts,” as he says it. He tells her “that’s not me.” Let’s not forget the award-winning line, “I don’t make love. I fuck, hard.”
So in a way, he does warn her of his unusual tastes. But then he’ll give her what she wants, little by little, whether it be holding hands, letting her meet his mother, referring to her as his “girlfriend,” yeah, mixed messages much? It’s like giving her slack on the leash and then reeling her back in. “Oh, but he’s falling in love with her, too.” No, no, no. Let me remind you that this man is eagerly trying to persuade this naive girl into something she has no experience in. I mean, aren’t there ways of connecting with people who are already into this BDSM stuff?
No, the bitter ex-girlfriend inside me would say, “It’s like those relationships where the man is a huge douchebag deep down, then suddenly he’s the best part of himself when he senses you’re about to leave him.” Anyone else been in that situation, or is it just me? Example: Christian demands that she abide by his ludicrous contract involving what he can do to her. She writes a joking e-mail saying, “Yeah, it was nice knowing you.” He thinks in his mind, “Oh fuck! Let me go to her place and let myself in with some wine and gentle sex. That’ll keep her hooked!” Another example: Christian throws a tantrum when he finds out Anastasia is going to visit her mother in Georgia, then while she’s there, he texts her and says he’s going to dinner with a friend. “Mrs. Robinson?” Anastasia asks. “Don’t worry about it,” replies Christian. Christian calls her, she doesn’t pick up (God, I love pulling that cold shoulder shit). Christian thinks, “Oh shit! Now I have to go all the way to Georgia and take her flying so she won’t leave me.” There’s a part in the film when Anastasia, confused and frustrated as any woman would be, boldly asks, “What do you want?” Mind games, I’m telling you, that’s all this is.
The story itself isn’t the only problem I have with this movie. It’s boring. I can only imagine what the women who hadn’t read the book were expecting when they knew this alleged kinky story was being made into a film, only to find out it’s hardly kinky at all, unless you count the awkward conversations about anal fisting and genital clamps as such. The two leads also didn’t seem to have much chemistry going on. Dornan is a dull boy, even when he’s at play.
I’ve read plenty of reviews stating that this wasn’t as bad as expected. Well, that’s mainly because Johnson holds this film up on her shoulders by herself like a champ, plus there isn’t much for the film to live up to, with the horribly written source material and all. It’s not really much of a compliment, believe me.
I’ve also seen people complain about the end. Well, the end is the best part if you ask me. I don’t want to go into spoiler territory, but let me just say I wish sequels didn’t exist because that’s where it should’ve ended for good. But now we get to watch Ana be an idiot later on, so that should be fun, or at least, rant-worthy on my part.
I really hate sounding like a crazed feminist (but I know I do), and I hate it when people try to find sexism in literally everything, but I’m sick of these terrible stories. I swear, they are ruining the psyche of women. I know for a fact there’s women out there who believe that behavior like Christian’s is acceptable because he’s “damaged,” and there are women out there who believe they can change someone, or that they’ll be the exception when it comes to a man who treats everyone badly. Come to your senses! Real men don’t act like this, this isn’t romantic, this is shit. Fuck this movie. I’d rather watch Colin Firth beat the living crap out of people while wearing a perfectly tailored suit than ever watch this trash again.
P.S. Sorry to anyone who actually read this whole thing. I’ll probably regret this review in the morning.