REVIEW: Fifty Shades of Grey starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson – by Yael Tygiel

As someone who read the 50 Shades Trilogy (twice), I was incredibly familiar with the story and characters going into the theater. Like everyone else, my last few weeks has been flooded with billboards, posters, interviews, and clips from the highly anticipated movie. I’m not really sure what category to put this movie in, at times it was surprisingly funny (in the most beneficial way), it was “erotic” to a degree, I guess, but I think I’m supposed to call it a drama. So let’s go with that. While reading the books my biggest complaints were the unbelievable sex (seriously, there’s no way she orgasmed EVERY time) and Anastasia’s inability to think for herself. In the movie we never see an orgasm (I guess that’s more realistic), and Anastasia continues to let everyone think for her.

The plot is simple (as is the dialogue) – We’ve got Christian Grey, a late-20s abusive billionaire who believes he can only express his feelings towards women by abusing them in a way that he considers consensual S&M. He doesn’t understand the word “No” or boundaries. He’s incredibly narcissistic, overbearing, and often stalkerish. Our female lead is Anastasia Steele, a mousy college grad who somehow earned a degree in English Lit without a proper working computer. She is a woman we should all fear to be, the one who returns to her abuser no matter how many times he hits her.

He attempts to woo her while also pushing her away. He deflowers her and attempts to make her his perfect plaything. Meanwhile she believes he will love her and she can change him if only he could realize how much he hurts her.

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When Anastasia meets Christian he’s polite to her, but cold. For whatever reason this turns her on (I’m not judging. Just stating) He then stalks her at her work, invites her for coffee but abruptly tells her to stay away from him. He follows that up by showing up at a bar after she drunk dials him and takes her back to his hotel where he proceeds to undress her unconscious body. When she wakes up, she asks him if they had sex to which he responds, “I’m not into necrophilia”. Red Flag! Her intoxication isn’t what stopped him, it was that she was blacked out. I take that to mean that if she were awake he would’ve had no problem taking advantage of her. He then goes on to stalk her when at her graduation (like as she’s walking across the stage and picking up her diploma), and when she leaves town to visit her mother.

If you’ve seen any of the recent interviews and such with the cast, you know that in real life Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson are incredibly awkward around each other. I can only image what it’s like having to be so intimate and vulnerable with a stranger in front of a whole movie crew. That weirdness translates to the screen in a way that for some reason makes sense for these characters.

Now, I’d like to make it very clear that I know the difference between Abuse, BDSM, and Porn. Although I can understand why conservatives want to call this movie as pornography, I wish an understanding of how “implied sex” is in no way the same as actual intercourse – at no point does actor Jamie Dornan’s penis actually enter the body of actressDakota Johnson. In fact we don’t even get to see his penis – But speaking of misidentification, let’s discuss BDSM.

In a Dominant-submissive relationship consent is key. What is portrayed in this movie is a Dominant (sure, let’s go with that) who approaches a virgin (literally) and asks her to jump into this world blindly. Every time she seeks answers or ask for his patience, he angrily expresses his frustration about wanting to hit her. After explaining his wants and what will please him, Anastasia asks what she gets out of it and he responds, “Me.” That is not how a Dom-sub relationship works! The submissive should also be receiving what they want and what pleases them. The idea is that a submissive will get pleasure out of submitting, in the same way that a Dominant would get pleasure out of dominating – am I making sense here, people?

After learning that this college grad is completely new to sex (in every way), a proper Dom would talk her through his offer, but not Christian. He throws her into the deep end by “rectifying the situation” of her virginity. They “make love” and she enjoys it, but his approach was, you’re a virgin? I’m going to pretend to romance you and then everything will be all better. You’ll want to submit to me and we can move on. I’m not saying that Anastasia wasn’t curious about the S&M world, I’m saying that she wanted him to clearly explain everything (probably verbally) before bending her over his knee.

A highlight for me in this movie, and I might just be the only one, is seeing that Dakota Johnson did not shave her thighs nor her pubic hair. Why does this make me so happy? Because not only does she have a bush in the books, but also it’s realistic! This young woman has never been intimate with a man so why would she be as hairless as a porn star? She wouldn’t. And it’s not like Hollywood to allow such things on an R rated screen.

Some of the funniest moments was listening to the shit these characters say. “I don’t make love. I fuck. hard.” It was straight up ridiculous! “I’m 50 shades of fucked up” Unfortunately, I’m fully aware that the most awkward lines are direct quotes from the books.

That said, if you know exactly what you’re getting into when you buy a ticket to watch 50 Shades of Grey, you will not be disappointed. It’s not art. It’s not porn. It’s not even a good story. It is the movie version of E.L. James’ terrible, yet highly consumed, novel. I do not regret watching it.

Some final thoughts: The soundtrack is without question the best part of the movie! It’s absolutely fantastic.

Sadly, my favorite character, Taylor, aka Christian’s driver, played by the handsome Max Martini, was barely in this movie. The entire first novel turned out to be entirely exposition for the actual plot of the 2nd and 3rd book. We met a whole bunch of characters (Christian’s family; Jose; Ana’s dad) and they didn’t really do anything. So now we wait for movie 2 and 3.

Meanwhile check out the trailer below (if you somehow haven’t already seen it a million times) and head to the theaters because Fifty Shades of Grey is now playing.

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