At first, I wasn’t going to see Fifty Shades of Grey. Yes, I’d read the books (sadly, that’s plural) when they came out. Yes, everyone and their mother has been simply agog about the titillating teasers that have been gracing the net. But I wasn’t going to do it. Why not? Because suddenly my Facebook feed was blowing up with posts like this:
“‘It’s domestic violence dressed up as a sexy fantasy.'”
So when my best friend called me up and asked if I wanted to see it, I said no thanks. It wouldn’t feel right to give them my money. But as I was speaking these words to her, my brain started kicking into gear.
I won’t know unless I actually go and judge it for myself.
And I could write a blog post about it, so it could count as research.
In the same breath as saying no, I said yes, I’d go.
We ended up sneaking into a later showing than we’d bought reserved seats for, seeing as we arrived 30 minutes late. We didn’t want to miss a second of it. The lights dimmed, the previews were shown, and two hours later, we were walking out slightly dazed.
Here’s what I thought. As a side note, let’s focus solely on the movie, and put the books aside for a second.
** Warning: The Next Section May Include Plot Spoilers **
- Don’t count on this movie winning an Oscar anytime soon. The lines were sometimes laughable, and as I’m racking my brain, I can’t think of the plot as being anything more than their love story. What was Ana trying to do with her life? Not much, I guess.
- Christian Grey is a controlling man with some seriously creepy ideas of romance, such as letting himself into Ana’s house without her knowledge.
- Additionally, he does get her a computer and a car and follows her on her visit to her mom’s place. Like I said, controlling. And off putting.
- I saw consent throughout the movie. He goes over the safe words they use more than once, and they even have a formal meeting about what she is and is not comfortable with. Anything she axes, he agrees to.
- Dakota Johnson brought a life to Ana’s character that was refreshingly unexpected. Keep your eyes peeled for the ‘drunken call scene’, it was one of our favorites!
- When she says stop, everything stops. She says leave, he leaves.
- It was steamy. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.
Let me state here that I am not an expert on BDSM practices. I do know consent, though, and while Christian could be creepy, he seemed to follow the rules when it came to ‘yes means yes and no means no’.
As for being controlling? I don’t want to defend the character here, seeing as control is usually a factor in domestic abuse. However. Part of the whole premise is that Christian comes from a bad past. His birth mother was a drug addict and he saw a lot of messed up things in his childhood. Then his adoptive mother’s friend raped him when he was 15. Thus it seems only natural that he – as a character – craves control in his life. When and what he eats, how his company is run, his exercise routine. And it makes sense that this would carry over into his relationships.
Again, the controlling aspect is not okay, by any means.
And Ana balks at it! She hates it! It makes her feel trapped and kept and uncomfortable. She doesn’t like it when he chases her down to her mother’s house. She has an incredibly hard time trying to accept Christian’s tastes in the bedroom. It’s screwed up – all of it – and they both acknowledge this and try to work through it. He starts to change a little for her (several times the notion that he’s never let anyone else sleep in his bed with him before comes up).
Ana, on her end, tries to be open to his BDSM. At one point, she wants him to show her what the worst case scenario could be, so she can fully understand what she’s signing up for.
And you know what? She hates it. She doesn’t understand. She tells him he will never do that to her again. And she leaves. And that’s that.
This movie is imperfect – very imperfect – and in many ways lives up to the hype of being “mommy porn”. In it, though, I saw two worlds colliding and struggling to stay together, despite their differences. I saw a young woman stand up for her body and her wants, and that alone earned my $15.00 AMC ticket.