Movie Review - Fifty Shades of Gray. What BDSM?

Let me start by saying I have not read the books… yet. I will, because I need to form my own opinion on the story and writing. There is so much  mud being flung around the internet about these books that I am almost obligated to at least take a peek. Seriously, fights are breaking out, friendships are being lost… over a story. It’s fiction people. Remember that.

Now, that said, I went to the movie with no prejudice in mind. I knew it was a movie centered around a BDSM-ish relationship.  Kinky… sure, why not. Girl’s night at the movie. Let’s go have a few giggles and popcorn.

Giggles there were aplenty! But I fail to see why people are fighting about this movie and it’s book franchise so fervently in every corner of the internet. Sure, there is sex, and the idea of a BDSM relationship, but what you got on screen simply a bit of kink with an odd love story.

Story-wise, I think the angle the writers and producers went with was perfect for the general adult movie going audience. It was something new. Not the standard Valentine’s day romance fair. Inf fact, it ends on a break up note. Definitely not lovey dovey, guy gets girl, romantic.

Now, remember, I have not read the books. I am going off of what I saw on the big screen only.

This movie is, at bottom line, a story about a woman trying to crack the shell of a broken man who has, for no real reason (call it love at first sight syndrome), latched on to her as an object of desire. She, despite many red flags to his emotional issues, tries to dig down deep and find the heart she believes he does have and get him to accept normal relationship-y things. Along the way they engage in some new sexual grounds for her, but none of what was shown on the film crossed any real taboo lines. I daresay it wasn’t even really BDSM they were showing. Some light bondage, sure. Some gentle flogging… more like tickling, yes! And, there were some titillating scenes with her strung up while he teased her. All of which were not really crossing any lines as far as I could tell. Certainly not abuse. Everything that was done was consensual. Even that last bit with the belt was ordered by Ana. Watch closely. Gray, for all his “I’m a Dominant,” posturing really never did anything without Ana’s okay.

Some interesting points I noticed while watching. The initial mousey appearance of the main character Ana was just that. While she spoke with a simper and constantly bit her lip, she was not completely a doormat. She never once signed the contract and quite regularly kept Mr. Gray on a chain waiting for her to give him what he wanted. She demanded negotiations on the contract, and despite his very forward advance, left him in the cold that night. Despite his anger at her trip to Georgia, she did not cancel plans. Despite his consistent reminders that he was not a romantic person, she whittled him down to agreeing to all of her demands. Dinner and dates, bringing her home to the family, sleeping together in bed. These were all things Ana wanted and demanded in her own coquettish way. She forced her hand and her “Dominant” gave in each time. She managed to get everything while she was being wined and dined by her new beau. I’d hardly call this being a doormat.  Also, not to be the one to spoil it for other moviegoers, but she did walk out the door on him at the end of the movie. Great cliffhanger, and another example of how she really held her own when it came down to it.

There were some issues I did have with the movie, and I can’t say I wasn’t 100% unbiased. I’d been warned before watching and the warnings did prove true, to some extent. The chemistry issue was definitely apparent. But, only in about the first half of the movie. So, I have a feeling it wasn’t the actors at fault. I felt they (the movie producers) were trying way too hard to show how different the two characters and their worlds were before delving into the kinky relationship that develops. They are essentially from two different worlds. One is a rich business man hiding his inner demons behind work, working out, and his kinky bedroom fun. The other is from a multi-family divorce home trying to work her way through the world. She’s used to disappointment in life and having to work through it. She wears her demons on her sleeve. The two though, initially, were so horribly awkward in the beginning I wondered how they would ever pull it off. Also, Christian was giving off the worst stalker vibe in the hardware store. It was off putting in the worst way. The characters did mellow out at about the halfway point and the awkwardness and stalkerness was much more tolerable. The characters did begin to feel more real at that point but it was a knock to the movie’s credit that it took that long for them to become likeable.

Another point I didn’t quite feel was right was Christian as a dominant. Not knowing what a Dom should look or act like, I am only speculating here, but during the scenes where he was the Dom, I just didn’t believe it. It felt to me like playing around. Sorry.  That part just never became “real.”
So, all that said. I found the movie an enjoyable 2 hours. I laughed, I oohed, I gawked, I enjoyed. And in the end, I don’t see the BDSM angle as much of a problem. There wasn’t a real representation of BDSM in this movie as I could tell. Just a bit of kink.

As for those screaming abuse.  I don’t understand the abuse link either. The characters themselves have their own issues, but what transpired in the scenes was not abuse at all. Maybe I am missing something.  I do feel that people like to find things to complain about and with its popularity, FSOG is a fashionable thing to throw mud at. Maybe that’s all that is happening. I’ll just leave it at that.
I will read the books to see if I might be missing more, and when I do, I’ll come back and post the review as well.

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the movie. Did you see it? Did you like it?


kjacoby51008 said...

I saw it and... I'd watch it again ;) haha yeah the actors didn't really have the chemistry that I wanted but in reading the first few chapters of book 1 I realized it's supposed to be awkward the actors just REALLY put on the awkward lol in the end I love a good love story even an awkward love story with a stalker ish feeling but who cares! Awkward or stalker Jamie Dornan is hot! Maybe he should have done more Dom research but I think in this case it was supposed to be gentle a part of him wants to love her and not hurt her or control her. I'm still reading through the book and like that I can put 2 hot faces to the names haha!

Katie Salidas said...

Do you feel the actors were perfect for the characters in the book, or should they have picked different actors?

About The Author

Katie Salidas is a USA Today bestselling author and RONE award winner known for her unique genre-blending style.

Since 2010 she's penned five bestselling book series: the Immortalis, Olde Town Pack, Little Werewolf, Chronicles of the Uprising, and the all-new Agents of A.S.S.E.T. series. As her not-so-secret alter ego, Rozlyn Sparks, she is a USA Today bestselling author of romance with a naughty side.

In her spare time Katie also produces and hosts a YouTube talk show; Spilling Ink. She also has a regular column on First Comics News where she explores writing from a nerdy perspective.