On a blustery cold Sunday afternoon I managed to talk my travel buddy, the Ethel to my Lucy, to go to the movies to see “Fifty Shades of Grey” with me—despite the fact that she really did not like the book—and only the first one at that. I thought it would be weird to go by myself; going in tandem takes the smarmy out of watching soft porn in a public arena.
Sandy’s a good sport, but as anticipated, she didn’t like the movie. In fact, she embarrassed me twice by guffawing (she calls it snorting) at the whiplash escalation of Ana going from naïve virgin to, shall we say, anal-retentive in less than a week.
Here’s my take: It’s fantasy; it’s a jumping off point. It’s a long string of ideas suitable for customizing and building on. Every woman fantasizes. Some have to get into their head and imagine all kinds of things before the physical pleasure can build and the ultimate release can take place. Maybe there’s some fodder for the novice here.
The world of sadomasochism, where Mr. Grey resides, is not commonplace. You’re going to have to search it out if you want a part in it, it’s unlikely it will come and find you as it did for Ana. For instance: I have lived in a close-knit community for nineteen years. During that time I often heard rumors of swingers anxious to find partners. To this day, I have no idea whom any of them are. I didn’t find them, because I wasn’t looking for them. Not that it would have mattered—I don’t share, and I’m pretty sure my husband wouldn’t either. I doubt he’d have been up for it. Heh, heh.
For me, it’s all about the romance. I love a good love story, and in the end, Ana and Christian do find their happily-ever-after. For those who haven’t read the books, you have two more movies to go, unless they wrap it up in one. I think the books are better than the movie in that the sex scenes build gradually so it makes more sense. Also you get the absolute conviction that Christian desires more than anything to give pleasure to Ana. And he does. He just gets around to it a little differently. As an aside here, the spankings and floggings are designed to generate heat and pool blood in the erotic arenas, making flesh plump and become ultra sensitive. Orgasms achieved in this fashion are more powerful, last longer, and usually allow for repeat performances. When the body is tingly and the nerve endings alive, any touch is more profound. So a good spanking is not always a bad thing. And blindfolds enhance other senses. Being bound makes it all about you, as you are clearly not expected to do anything but take. But there are extremes in everything and everyone has their individual limits. What the mind can conceive . . .
Back to Ana and Christian. I never got the premise of his abusive childhood affecting his relationships in such an extreme manner. His desire to stay remote (which ultimately doesn’t happen) outside of the sexual encounters seems farfetched to me. His deriving pleasure from inflicting pain to the levels he was accustomed to dealing with doesn’t fit into any fantasy I’ve ever dreamed up. The idea of whippings and lashings is over the top for me.
So, vanilla’s not a bad thing, and spice is good, but if my husband came home with a studded belt or a bullwhip, I’d have to tell him our happily-ever-after was on the rocks. There are a lot of things women will try in their head (the ultimate sex organ). But when it comes down to the real deal, most will only allow minor enhancements to ramp things up. On the other end, a submissive that will allow a man to scar her body, has given up way too much control. Agreeing to all this in a matter of weeks? Insane.
That said: knowledge is power. Young women should be aware this behavior exists and make sexual intimacy decisions long before their heart enters the picture. We all do stupid things for the man we love. Ana was curious and overwhelmed. The movie did an excellent job showing Christian’s affluence, allowing Ana to believe in the fairytale—the prince is always rich and powerful, the princess . . . fair and innocent.
The best part of the books was the steady banter of emails and voice mail messages they left for each other. I realize this is hard to do in movie format, but in my mind, the best dialogue is missing—the dry wit, the biting humor, the frustration, the devoted caring. The film’s conference table contract-negotiating scene evokes some of this as Ana asserts herself and makes some demands herself. In the end, Christian’s no-compromise attitude evolves when he realizes he loves Ana and that he wants her forever.
My take? Dakota Johnson makes a very nice Ana; it’s how I saw her when I read the books. Jamie Dornan makes an okay Christian; I pictured him as older and more in command of himself. And E.L. James? She wrote a nice love story with a lot of interesting hash in the middle.