Fifty Shades of Grey. Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. Starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. Rating: 5 (out of 10)
As long-awaited as that elusive orgasm is today's cinematic release of Fifty Shades of Grey, starring Dakota Johnson as virginal college graduate Ana, Jamie Dornan as mogul-fetishist Christian Grey, and our own Vancouver as Vancouver, WA, and Seattle, as usual.
To celebrate, here are common truths and fallacies surrounding the Fifty phenomenon:
1. I read the book(s) for the story, not the smut.
Nope, you didn't. If you had wanted story you would've picked up Tolstoy, or something above a sixth grade level. You would've put the book down after reading the character's name on the third page: Anastasia Steele? Puh-lease! If you had any interest (chaste or otherwise) in the books, go see the movie.
2. OK, I read some of the smut...
Of course you did! If you were like most consumers of E.L. James' books you were keen to be titillated, but not as jazzed to be recognized by your dentist while browsing the "Erotica" section of your local bookstore, which has been stocking similar and better soft-core porn for years. This book was stocked in full view, everywhere, so you could grab it - preferably after-hours, when your dentist was at home flossing after dinner - tuck it under a copy of The Economist magazine, and flee the scene (after paying, of course).
3. Do I have to read the books to see the movie?
Always a better bet, especially in this case. Not that you won't be able to follow the plot, such as it is, but the film offers a watered-down version of the story, which tells how sweet Ana (Johnson) falls into an SM relationship with hot and powerful executive Christian Grey (Dornan), a man with a tortured past. The sex is necessarily tamer, of course - though Johnson's nipples should get their own billing, we see them so often - but the chemistry between the leads is also lacking. Add to this a rushed history of how the couple enters into their kinky relationship, and Christian just seems like a creep. Any self-respecting virgin would run a mile. And because he seems creepy, we feel pervy for sitting there watching them. It's one thing to read the books in the relative privacy of the carpool lane, but quite another to watch the film beside a middle-aged guy munching popcorn the whole time (trust me). Plus the film, like the first book, has a cliffhanger ending and is a direct tie-in to the sequel (Fifty Shades Darker, 2016). You'll be able to tell which movie-goers haven't read the books: they're the ones sitting there wearing WTH expressions when the credits roll.
4. Jamie Dornan is a terrible choice for Christian Grey!
He was sexier in the Netflix series The Fall, I'll give you that. In Fifty Shades' opening scene it appears the Irishman is struggling so hard to master the American accent that he comes across as robotic instead
of smouldering. However, those trademark ripped jeans are a perfect fit. ..
5. Dakota Johnson is a terrible choice for Anastasia Steele!
Actually, she is quite good, injecting the film with some much-needed wit (and she's a dead ringer for mom Melanie Griffith when she giggles). Thankfully, we don't have to be subjected to that terrible internal monologue that plagues the books with lines like "my inner goddess is doing the meringue with some salsa moves." What we do have are plenty of slow-motion climactic scenes in The Playroom that made me wish for Meg Ryan's fake orgasms (circa When Harry Met Sally) instead.
6. The film/books will give young people a skewed impression of what sex is really like.
True, but no more so than what they are getting from the Internet, the airbrushed cover of that magazine in your mailbox, music videos, awards shows, all programming on the CW, social media and everywhere else. Dornan's Christian is a dominant, though more vulnerable than he cares to admit, and Ana asks for all that she's given, meaning that it's a more level playing field than it initially appears. Only you can fill your daughter in on how awkward, and wonderful, and occasionally boring, sex can be, so do that. You can hide your kindle and the car keys, if you want; but frankly, the story of a virgin meeting a handsome, sexually adept billionaire who has his own helicopter is one she'll probably risk getting grounded in order to see. Laters, baby!