Fifty Shades of Grey

Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle

Praise be! Rejoice, all, for the greatest accomplishment in cinematic history is here. You may not realise it, but Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Fifty Shades of Grey has achieved splendid feats which no film has come close to before.

Many people out there have derided the franchise. “A feckless abomination!” they cry. “A travesty of humanity!” they jeer. “I would rather suture my eyelids together and have my hands hacked off with a rusty saw than be even remotely exposed to this atrocity!” they posit.

But these people haven’t appreciated the genius of Taylor-Johnson’s Oscar-nominated — legitimately Oscar-nominated — adaptation. For what movie has ever before combined so many extremities of filmmaking into one comprehensive feature? And been nominated for Best Original Song?

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Finally, a woman in a movie who doesn’t have all those pesky thoughts and feelings!

For example, most films these days contain “complex” characters. Complicated, inconsistent and challenging, these portrayals are supposed to be “realistic”. Pah. What absurdity!

In contrast, Fifty Shades of Grey dares to say: no. Characters shouldn’t be tiringly unpredictable or nuanced. They shouldn’t force the viewer to use their brain. Characters should be one-note and straightforward, guaranteed to act exactly as you’d expect them to.

Why should Ana Steele (Dakota Johnson) be intelligent or conflicted, just like so many other female protagonists out there? Fifty Shades of Grey bucks the trend, and instead makes its heroine an insipid empty vessel, devoid of any defining character traits whatsoever. Finally, a woman in a movie who doesn’t have all those pesky thoughts and feelings!

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Thank you, Christian Grey: a cushy foray into an accessibly simplistic darkness — now with added whips.

And what about the brooding love interest, Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan)? We thought cinema had abandoned the “rich, handsome anti-hero” trope long ago, or at least augmented it with other perspectives.

Not Fifty Shades of Grey. It harkens back to the classic era, when tortured, Byron-esque men dutifully followed a bland blueprint. Thank you, Christian Grey: a cushy foray into an accessibly simplistic darkness — now with added whips.

Ah yes, who could forget the hard-hitting, revolutionary exploration of sexual desire which forms the backbone of this movie? Christian isn’t any old millionaire: he’s a millionaire who’s into bondage, domination, sadism and masochism (BDSM). Fifty Shades of Grey doesn’t sugar-coat, and instead delves into the real world of sub-dom relationships.

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It doesn’t matter if a partner is controlling, hostile and unreliable as long as they’re good-looking and own a helicopter.

Did you think that general BDSM play is about mutual respect and enjoyment? Did you believe that two consenting adults can sensitively explore each other’s kinks whilst accepting and adhering to each other’s boundaries? Did you feel that BDSM doesn’t have to be a world of murky perversions, and can instead be a pleasurable and fulfilling experience for all involved parties?

You naïve scoundrel; don’t be ridiculous! There is no such intelligence or care to BDSM at all. 50 Shades of Grey shows us that all BDSM sex is purely about the angry dominant man’s whims, while the doe-eyed submissive female succumbs to his aggression whether she wants to or not. Fifty Shades of Grey is brave enough to trumpet this enduring truth from the rooftops.

Christian constantly coerces, manipulates and emotionally blackmails Ana. Is this because he’s an abhorrent, selfish bastard? No, it’s because he loves her. Eternal thanks go to Fifty Shades of Grey, reminding us that it doesn’t matter if a partner is controlling, hostile and unreliable as long as they’re good-looking and own a helicopter.

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Sequels based on E. L. James’ trilogy are due to be released in 2017 and 2018. They will presumably consist solely of Ana sitting at a table filling in a tax return.

It seems as though the whirlwind romance is cut short, though, when Ana decides that Christian’s predilections may be too much for her. Yet another feat of genius from Fifty Shades of Grey, daring to tell a non-conformist love story which doesn’t end in happy union.

This is but the first instalment of the tale; sequels based on E. L. James’ trilogy are due to be released in 2017 and 2018. They will presumably consist solely of Ana sitting at a table filling in a tax return.

Christian Grey will probably never appear in Fifty Shades Darker or Fifty Shades Freed, instead allowing Ana to grow as an independent woman who doesn’t need a man to be complete. Inspirational.

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The defining romantic film of humanity’s history is finally here.

So, undeniably, Fifty Shades of Grey comes together as a strong, brave, revelatory exploration of love and sex. Goodbye Romeo and Juliet, farewell Casablanca, so long Titanic; the defining romantic film of humanity’s history is finally here.

There is no more fitting way of concluding than by pondering over an especially pertinent line from the script itself, possessing all the intellect and gravitas of the whole feature. Ahem:

“What are butt plugs?”

Masterful.