I caved and watched Fifty Shades of Grey last weekend. Weeks of derisive “reviews” equipped me with low expectations when I entered the theater. Well, for that matter, low expectations are good things to carry with you into any movie! It’s the best way to get the most out of the pesos you shell out for a movie ticket.
As it turns out, 50 Shades wasn’t that bad. Perhaps thanks to the British director and the sprinkling of Brits in the cast, the shots were tastefully done. Dakota Johnson was naked enough times in the movie for you to begin to see past the novelty of seeing a naked celeb. Get that out of the way and you begin to see the nuances of the performance. Not surprising that Johnson’s portrayal of Anastasia Steele drew rave reviews. The lead character is quite a rich one to breathe life into — one that transforms from a naive college girl into a woman who eventually got the hang of keeping a steely billionaire bachelor on his toes.
Unforunately for actor Jamie Dornan, he did not have much to work with in Christian Grey. A computer-generated character could pretty much fill Christian’s android-like character.[Spoilers ahead]
As for the judgmental rants about how 50 Shades could go on to tear the already wispy moral fiber of Philippine society, well, as usual it’s all just plain old wives’ over-reacting. Films like The Secretary and Blue Velvet had far more bizarre stuff. I mean, seriously, spanking is really not that out there anymore nowadays, right ladies?
The important thing about the film is that the woman comes out the winner. While I don’t really buy Christian’s “It is you that’s changing me” response to Anastasia’s lament, “Why are you trying to change me,” (I mean, c’mon, guys ultimately dont’ really change!), the way the character was developed pulled it off. In the end, Anastasia found the chink in Christian’s armor. I’m not really sure if you gals got the message but the lesson in this excellent film is that the real winner in any relationship is the one who stays true to his/herself.
Thinking of all that I’ve said so far, we realize that the plot is really stock-standard rom-com formula. I was expecting to see more leather and whip action but it seems the producers watered all that down — which made the formulaic plot even more evident. Tom Hanks’s and Meg Ryan’s You Got Mail comes to mind. Same premise, different cinematic and literary devices. That helicopter scene? Pretty Woman and Superman (the original one starring Christopher Reeve) did all that first.
This, after all, is the age of “curation” as social media ‘experts’ say. Seen from the right lens, 50 Shades is really just a glossy museum of rom-com cinema, cobbled together with better lighting and editing. Considering that editing was done by 90-year-old veteran Anne Coates who also did Laurence of Arabia (1962), well, wow, I’m having what she’s having! Lol!
Christian Grey may be quite the nutjob. But to his credit he was upfront about everything to the extent of having it all in black-and-white — which granted Anastasia a level of transparency not too many lovestruck females enjoy: a preview of what’s down the track. Too many women hook up with guys they hardly know and are later shocked when the previously-hidden rocks (cleverly masked by the roses and best feet forward at the start of it) start to show. Of course, when you’ve got a private chopper and glider (that you can fly yourself) and a garage full of black German cars, you don’t really need to be much of a charmer. In that sense, that’s sort of the darker message about girls 50 Shades highlights. It sends the message out to the boys that waving your wads is what ultimately proves to be the most potent come hither signal! No need to do Valentines shit, right? Ironic, isn’t it, considering that this was supposed to be the V-Day must-see.
Looks like we’ve all been had by 50 Shades. But who cares? It was a good show. And, surprisingly, the movie made me think — which is a good thing.
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