Based on the lady-porn of the same name, 50 Shades of Grey is the film you already know it is. It’s all about the sexy world of dominant and submissive relationships, of bondage and a timeless love based on Twilight fanfic. But is it actually sexy? Is it empowering to women? Is it even a good film? To discuss, I’d like to present to you:
50 Shades of Tay: a journey into 50 Shades of Grey through the lyrics of Taylor Swift’s 1989.
1.) Like any true love. It drives you crazy. But you know you wouldn’t change anything, anything… anything? (Welcome to New York)
Set in the sexiest city in the world, Seattle, 50 Shades stars Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele, a name so sexy you must pronounce it like your tongue is allergic to consonants (uh-nuh-stuh-sia). Anastasia is an English Lit student who, as a favour for her sick housemate, interviews the mysterious, brilliant, tormented Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). As we all know, Grey is into some kinky stuff, and prefers his relationships be dictated by the rules of a contract he has drawn up, allocating him total dominance.
2.) He says, “What you’ve heard is true but I can’t stop thinking about you” (Style)
Almost immediately, Grey is taken by the sheer charisma vacuum that is Anastasia Steele. She doesn’t know how doors work, she doesn’t have a pen, and she’s a terrible interviewer! Could he GET any more boners?! She asks him five questions, then is walked to an elevator and must immediately cool off in the sexy Seattle rain because her vagina is almost literally on fire from impeccably dull questioning. And yet this chance meeting throws our two lovebirds into a furious spiral of passion. Christian shows up at Anastasia’s sexy job at a hardware store (more like HARD WHERE, RIGHT LADIES?). After some hijinks, Grey shows Steele his softer side, and then his backside and boom. Sexy times. Right? Right…..?
3.) You were too afraid to tell her what you want. And that’s how it works. It’s how you get the girl (How You Get the Girl)
As an audience member, you’re already aware that there’s to be some kind of kink to the sex in 50 Shades, so it’s with expert precision by director Sam Taylor-Johnson and screenplay writer Kelly Marcel that they draw this out to the point where the film is all but consumed with the sexiest act two people can partake in: paperwork. Oh yeah, spit on your hand and get ready to watch a film that is predominantly about Anastasia signing Grey’s sex contract. There’s also the development of the relationship, which consists of Anastasia protesting against Grey’s rules – for instance, she must sleep in her own separate bedroom. But this seems to work, because although she appears to be unequivocally unhappy, Anastasia continues to return, pining for the next time Grey will shun her advances to scrapbook their first dates or whatever it is couples do.
4.) Boys only want love if it’s torture. Don’t say I didn’t say, I didn’t warn ya. (Blank Space)
I’m pretty sure Grey was a victim of statutory rape, as a young boy he became the submissive of a friend of his mother’s, and due to this, he explains, he has a proclivity for this kink – a relationship devoted to the art of BDSM. Anastasia doesn’t seem to mind, because she loves him so much we’re to assume as she tells us almost as often as she looks forlorn at her troubled lover.
5.) If you love like that – blood runs cold (Bad Blood)
Meanwhile, Grey – who doesn’t want to have a proper relationship outside of the dom/sub dynamic, takes Anastasia to meet his family. A breath of fresh air as Marcia Gay Harden (MORE LIKE MARCIA GAY HARD-ON, GET IT? SEXY MOVIE) actually injects some life into the otherwise sluggish pace. Rita Ora apparently received enough retweets to have half a sentence of dialogue for the strangest cameo ever. Grey also makes sure to be clearly not in a relationship by hiring a glider plane (it looks like a sperm. SEXY) and taking her on romantic helicopter rides. Is it clear now? He definitely does not want romance, except for these huge gestures of romance.
6.) This love is bad (This Love)
Ultimately, 50 Shades is a love story. But it’s not love between Steele and Grey, it’s the love Grey has with a certain kind of sex, and how his love for that sex informs his relationships. Steele is not a modern day heroine in literature and film. Let me be clear: I am in no way chastising the sex within the film. As someone who partakes in dominant/submissive behaviour every time I’m around a breakfast buffet, I am totally on board with that side of the film. What I found to be a really ugly underside of the film was the treatment of Steele as a human, and how she lays down and takes it (quite literally), clearly unhappy and the take-away from the film is that she’s lucky. Lucky to have an emotionally abusive, scowling genius. Steele herself acts as a critique on women, juxtaposed with slinky blonds. She’s not like regular girls! Bet you didn’t know she’s a collector of vintage cars! Are we supposed to pine for the life Grey will provide her? A sterility so cold that even a Rita Ora cameo is a welcome departure from the otherwise couple dominating screen time.
7.) This is gettin’ good now (Wildest Dreams)
So anyway – she never signs the contract, but at one point after being tied up and hit with a cat o’ nine tails, she’s like “ok let’s do some kink”. They do. She hates it.
8.) Remember when we couldn’t take the heat – I walked out, I said I’m setting you free (Out Of The Woods)
She walks out.
9.) The more I think about it now the less I know (All You Had To Do Was Stay)
The soundtrack is good? Tim Burton’s Friend Danny Elfman scored the film and the soundtrack is actually quite good. That’s the only redeeming quality I can think of.
10.) Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate (Shake It Off)
Superfans of the novels are ultimately going to love the film, I’m sure. For me, 50 Shades of Grey was problematic, but more than that: it’s not a very good film. Shonky script, average performances and it’s way, way too long.
Spanks, but no spanks.
This post first appeared on http://blog.presto.com.au/ but I wrote it so I can DO WHAT I WANT, MOM!!!