The two are polite and witty and even cute with one another, a genuine romance bubbling up underneath all the smooth seduction. The movie has a refreshing, friendly, youthful energy; it’s exciting, and excited, and, for the most part, pretty sex-positive. Which was, well, kinda shocking to me, as someone who hasn’t read E.L. James’s sex-filled tome, but certainly has heard a lot about it. – Richard Lawson [Vanity Fair]
IF YOU saw Jamie Dornan or Dakota Johnson with Jimmy Fallon this week, you have a sense of why the two actors were cast, but also how very smart the film’s creator, E.L. James, the director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, and the screenwriter, Kelly Marcel, all women, and the studio have been in rolling out Fifty Shades of Grey. If successful, this film could change the perception of adult erotic features into bankable projects.
The provocative photos in March’s W magazine are representative of one of the widest marketing campaigns a film can receive.
And for all the whining about giving women power in Hollywood, very little has been written about the ferocity by which E.L. James has faithfully guided her erotic blockbuster onto the screen, including going to battle for fans in order to keep it true to her vision. That she’s a woman, an author, and a novice to Hollywood, not to mention over 40, with readers driving her uncompromising vision, is nothing short of cinematic history that deserves to be celebrated.
Interesting that there’s so many pages on how the women of Fifty Shades interacted, labeled “squabbles,” when we seldom hear how men clash over these same types of creative differences.
The Hollywood Reporter talked with Fifty Shades director Sam Taylor-Johnson.
EL James was very hands-on with the film. Is that an experience you’d recommend to other filmmakers?
It’s difficult. When you have an author and an auteur, it’s a difficult and challenging relationship. I’m not saying that at times it wasn’t helpful, but there were times when it was really, really frustrating.
Whispers from some quarters that Fifty Shades is porn, that it’s a shocking how much marketing is supporting the film, reveals that pesky strain of feminism that continues to support the infantilization of women. As I wrote recently, consensual adventurism does not equate to “violence against women.”
On The Tonight Show, Jamie Dornan revealed lip smacking charm and a sense of humor that only will endear him to fans even more. His Irish accent was delightful, but not nearly as sexy as his devilish shyness.
As for Dakota Johnson, all the way down to her beautiful dress, her coquettishness with Fallon was sweet and knowing, instead of raunchy, which would have been all wrong and someone close to her knew it. No doubt it helps that she’s the daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, with her grandmother the legendary actor Tippi Hedren.
Let’s face it, American culture doesn’t take well to pure, unadulterated sexual passion. The distributors and culture nannies are just waiting to close the door on anything that hints of consummated lust shown in public. That’s why, as much as many will likely come away from the film wanting more, it’s the only way this film had a chance of breaking through with audiences. First you get them comfortable and don’t scare people with too much frontal erotica, so that the second and third films, already in the works, can perhaps reel the story out a bit, even if new stars are brought in.
Did you feel any pressure to tone down the sex scenes?
When we were at script level, there were times when people said there were too many sex scenes. We definitely cut back. I was always aware that I couldn’t make anything nearly as graphic as Blue Is the Warmest Color because this was a studio movie. For me, I didn’t feel like it needed to be graphic. When I watch movies, eroticism sort of ends when there’s penetration. The most erotic part is the buildup to that, so that’s where most of my focus was.
Richard Lawson’s Vanity Fair review aligns with what I expected the film to be if it had a chance to go mainstream, which is a lot less BDSM and graphic sex, something that would have shut the vault on future prospects of getting grown up erotic films distributed beyond the web or on demand.
But, of course, if the sex were more intense, Fifty Shades might actually become the transgressive sex fable it kind of wants to be, one that genuinely challenges our square notions of what is and isn’t deviant sex, that questions our perhaps rigid ideas of how power dynamics should function in a relationship. Free of full-frontal nudity and excessive thrusting and, well, orgasming as this movie is, it never gets to that envelope-pushing place. Which I suspect will disappoint many people, understandably. Oh well. Maybe I’m a sex-shaming prude, but I didn’t mind getting the less explicit version, because the movie is at its best when it keeps things swift and light.
Huffington Post compiled a few reviews, but none of this will have any impact on the Fifty Shades fans who will pack theaters — and it’s important to remember that most film reviewers haven’t a clue about mainstream erotica, because they’ve never seen it, let alone read any.
Given the preponderance of female nudity and absence of pickle shots, we hetero males probably get the better deal — which is too bad, given that the director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, is a woman and ought to have a more female-centric perspective. It’s not that she employs the usual prurient male gaze. It’s that her own gaze is as nervous as her heroine’s. She seems shackled (so to speak) by the movie’s takeaway: that even mindful, ultraregulated BDSM isn’t for normal people but emotional basket-cases — damned souls — who need to hide behind prescribed roles and rituals. – David Edelstein [Vulture]
“I don’t do romance. My tastes are very singular… you wouldn’t understand,” Christian Grey says to Anastasia Steele.
Released on Valentine’s Day weekend, people shouldn’t be surprised to find out that a sensual build-up is really what Fifty Shades of Grey offers.
You’ll have to provide your own climax.