Liz has read the book, but Melissa hasn’t. Here’s their individual takes on the movie they were totally surprised by.
Melissa Hanson aka Dial M For Melissa
Managing Editor / Podcast Producer
Growing up, Melissa’s favorite destination was always the video store and would agonize over whether to watch something new or to rewatch a favorite. Things have not changed.
Follow on Twitter @DialMForMelissa
I did not read the books. Once the hype started, I pretty much dismissed them and the movie announced. I had a few friends read it, and did try to read it myself, but couldn’t get past a few pages. All I knew was that there’s a “plain,” innocent girl and there’s a rich guy who’s into BDSM. Oh, and people (mostly women) are going nuts over it and it’s already selling out screenings. I didn’t really pay much attention to it and had zero interest in watching, but then, I saw Jamie Dornan is Christian Grey. This piqued my interest because he’s in the Netflix series, The Fall, which I absolutely love. Ok, so I’ll watch Fifty Shades of Grey.
Here’s the big shock: it’s actually a very interesting story of a man and woman who surprisingly talk about their relationship intimacy. It’s just disguised as sex. This could have been shown at a film festival and I wouldn’t have even known the difference.
Although it’s a little drawn out and definitely crawls in the third act, it keeps your interest. The dialogue starts out a little flat, but quickly picks up once the focus is just on Anastasia and Christian. The music and score is works beautifully. The remix of “Crazy In Love” by Beyoncé is magnificent.
When it comes to the sex, it’s really nothing shocking. The most shocking parts are the conversations they have TALKING about the sex. If you want to see a shocking sex scene, just watch The Counselor and wait for Cameron Diaz to get on top of a car.
Liz Whittemore aka IndieBizLiz
Managing Editor / Girls on Film Podcast Host
Actor / Singer / Dancer / Writer / Producer / Adventurer / New Englander / AMDA Alum / Wifey / MBAMrs / Whovian / Literary Sponge / Odd Duck / Pot Stirrer / Awesome Gal
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Yes. I read the damn book. In fact, I read the book in a book club at Yale School of Management’s Partners Club. I know, I know, I know, I sound like a cliche. We most definitely read it because of the hype. It could not be avoided, the hype I mean. BDSM and hot sexy “Mummy Porn”? I mean, is there really a question as to why we chose it? I don’t think so. To be honest, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the writing is atrocious. E.L. James began this “novel” as Twilight Fan fiction. I’m not sure if Christian Grey was meant to resemble Edward Cullen or not, though I do know that Robert Pattinson was James’ first pick to fill the role. Let’s just say that the entire book is from the inner monologue of Anastasia, a fresh faced college grad and virgin. Although, from the inner monologue presented by the author, you’d think she was 11. The book was a tough read in respect to the repetitive nature of James’ phrasing. If I had to read “My Inner Goddess” one more damn time, I don’t know if I ever would have finished. The infamous “tampon” scene alone made me toss my kindle across the bed. I didn’t pick the book back up for another three weeks; I hate to leave something unread simply on principle. Thankfully, that was not included in the film. Now, shall we launch into said version? I think we shall…
Truth be told, I actually REALLY liked the film. I don’t even care what you think about me after that statement. I liked it. Had there been zero hype, had I not ever heard of the book, had I not read any articles anywhere, I would be one happy audience member. The structure of the film versus the book is a vast improvement. We skip through the garbage and head straight into a courtship with a twist. It has a very tongue and cheek, rom-com formula in the beginning. Dakota Johnson is charming and funny, just the way I imagined Ana to be, without the gushing jargon of a pre-teen. Jamie Dornan is a pretty good Christian Grey. He grew on me as the film rolled on. His presence is strong and quiet and I think his interpretation is a thoroughly thought out character study. It is certainly a performance that would easily progress with two additional scripts. The chemistry is a tad tough to read, but not altogether unbelievable.
When you get to the heart of the screenplay, this story is about an intimate relationship between two people. Real moments, real issues, something for everyone to relate to. The sex scenes, while relatively intense, are no more “porny” than anything else we’ve seen before in film. Johnson is full frontal nude for a good amount of time. And, don’t worry, you get plenty of Dornan abs, and just enough rock hard bum shots a girl can handle in a span of two hours (*not enough, sorry not sorry*.) The struggle of power between a man and a woman, both emotionally and physically, is beautifully set out on screen. I applaud Sam Taylor-Johnson for a fantastic job in both shot layout and a keen hand in knowing what will play well with the intended audience. Also, I would be remiss if I did not high five the screenwriter, Kelly Marcel. She takes an average narrative and spins it into what would be considered a great little indie flick in any other world. Try your best to separate the book and the film. I think as a reader, you will be very pleased with Fifty Shades of Grey. As a movie goer, it will put a smile on your face. Take it at face value, and go from there. I, for one, walked away a happy book-clubber and a very happy audience member.