As my wife and I sat in the movie theater waiting for “Fifty Shades of Grey” to begin, she squeezed my hand and said:
“Are you excited?”
“I’m going to be open-minded,” I replied.
“Careful,” she teased, “or your brains might fall out.”
If only they had. Then my head would have been as vacuous as this movie.
To be clear, I am no prude when it comes to sex or nudity.
As part of a misspent youth, I visited many theaters worthy of the trench-coat crowd and have seen some pretty far-out stuff, sexually speaking.
What goes on between two consenting adults? Get your freak on, folks.
Clown make-up, scuba suits, dripping candle wax: Whatever curls your toes, have at it.
But this movie did almost the impossible: It made sex scenes that were antiseptic, turgid and utterly lacking in heat.
In sum, it made for boring boning.
Christian Grey makes Anastasia Steele go through what amounts to some kinky “Simon Says” exercises. (The difference being that when she failed to follow the specific instructions, she got spanked.)
But there was zero spark or chemistry between the lead characters. It was like they were acting in two different movies, each shot separately against a blue screen and then spliced together.
My problems with the movie ranged from irritation (ridiculous over-the-top product placements for Apple) to disbelief (Anastasia is a modern-day college senior and she is using a flip-phone, plus she’s a virgin?) to exasperating (she is supposed to be falling in love with this creepy borderline stalker-abuser but she seems mostly uncomfortable in his company).
But most of all, I found “Fifty” demeaning to women to the point that it made my blood boil.
Anastasia is on the cusp of graduating college but she appears not to have a brain cell in her head and is painted as a total dolt, following Christian around like some hapless puppy.
Add to that a paddling scene that looks more like a vicious beating by an abusive spouse or boyfriend and a sex scene bordering on rape.
It felt like two hours and five minutes of “torture porn” masquerading as mainstream movie-making.
At one point, Christian says: “I don’t make love…I fuck. Hard.”
I *get* dirty talk, and I’m all for it, but in the context of this movie, it sounded silly, at best, and like an excuse for engaging in misogyny at worst.
My wife and I debated the attraction of “Fifty” to women, who made up nearly two-thirds of the ticket-buyers in the movie’s opening weekend.
I don’t understand it, though there is no denying that actor Jamie Dornan is a hunka-hunk of burning love.
What I do know is that, as a man who is open-minded about sex and who likes a hot depiction of it as much as the next guy, I found this movie degrading and insulting.
There is a scene in which Christian says: “I’m 50 shades of fucked-up.”
Yep. So is this movie.
Do yourself a favor and just say “Laters, baby” to “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
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