Movie reviews are really not my forte because I am a very reactive viewer and tend to experience cinematography through an acutely emotional and subjective lens, even more so than with books, but Fifty Shades of Grey is the story that singlehandedly jump-started my reading passion and it is greatly responsible for the way my reading tastes have evolved over time, thus leaving me a bursting bubble of emotions after seeing its movie adaptation. I will admit that I had a reasonable number of expectations, bracing myself for disappointment because very rarely does a movie outmatch its book, but let me tell you, this movie did not just do the first book in the Trilogy justice—it pulled off the almost impossible task of faithfully bringing these fictional characters to life and making them even more psychologically layered and three-dimensional than they might have been in the first place, turning my overall viewing experience into an absolute thrill start to finish.
After seeing Dakota Johnson’s portrayal of Anastasia Steele, I am convinced that this role was made for her. The Fifty Shades Trilogy always centred around its heroine and her inner voice, making any actress’ portrayal of this role much more important than the one of Christian Grey, but Ms Johnson’s innate comedic timing left me speechless, not to mention all the ways she succeeded in expressing Anastasia’s vulnerability and naiveté, often with nothing more than a facial expression or a look. Her reluctance to just jump into the sexual adventure that Christian was proposing and thus effectively put aside her own romantic ideals was real, palpable, vivid in her every move. Even more so than in the books, I felt her desperate desire to be loved by him for the woman that she is, not the one he wants her to be, and that never changed in her, even when she surrendered to him and gave his lifestyle a taste.
Jamie Dornan was also a pleasant surprise, mainly because I was not always keen on his casting in this role, and even though at times there was a ‘stiffness’ to him that gave me the impression he was not entirely comfortable in Mr Grey’s shoes, he still managed to exceed my expectations and make me confident that he would ‘grow’ into this role even more in subsequent instalments of the Trilogy. His dominant streak didn’t always feel ‘natural’ to me, his words not always matching his body language, but that did not distract me in the slightest from enjoying him as the delicious ‘Fifty’.
The chemistry between the main characters was phenomenal, culminating in some of the most explicit and yet tastefully executed sex scenes I have ever watched on the big screen. There was a lot of nudity, both male as well as female, as it should have been given the storyline, but it was done with just the right level of detail, and it did not leave me feeling cheated out of any imageries that the books so vividly described. Their every sexual encounter was graphic enough to make it appear ‘real’, but elusive enough to allow us to fill the blanks with our own imagination.
Lastly, the music soundtrack needs to be acknowledged because it not only perfectly matched each scene, it enhanced them and played a vital role in our total multisensory experience.
This movie adaptation will undoubtedly meet its champions as well as its harsh critics, some happy to simply enjoy it without any preconceived notions, while others dissecting its every scene and assigning more symbolic meanings to it than it ever wished to convey, but I remain of the opinion that Christian and Ana’s love story was never meant to be a ‘how-to’ guide on relationships. It never set out to teach us any lessons other than what happens behind closed doors between two consulting adults is no one’s business other than their own. It never ‘glorified’ any aspects of itself. And there are no victims in this scenario. It’s a story that started a discourse on sex, liberated women to talk freely about their own sex lives, and it added the missing spark to many bedrooms. It was a catalyst, not a point of reference, and for many readers like yours truly, it will forever remain the seed that started the forest.
I loved this movie, plain and simple. I was emotionally spent by the end of it and immediately desperate for the sequel, and I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone willing to open-mindedly enjoy some steamy but utterly addictive fiction…with a mouth-watering side of kink.
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