by Roxane Hudon
Dedicated to JKD.
E.L. James is the luckiest, horniest, semi-literate Twilight fan. Unlike most titillated tween fans of the vamp love story, James took all the repressed sexual feelings inspired by Edward’s shiny dead diamond skin and used them to write her own Twilight-inspired fisticuff spank-fest. Over 100 million readers bought her erotic Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy and while she sits pretty in the Edwardian house she now lives in, imagining more terribly unsexy ways of describing an erection, she awaits a heavier shower of cold hard cash with the earnings of the film version directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. Since its opening on Friday, it has already earned about $80 million at the box office, confirming what really turns middle-aged white women: a quiet rich man with fancy cars, a light spanking fetish and a really big and active erection (that you can’t see on-screen, but can only imagine, because you’re a dirty, dirty girl).
Fifty Shades tells the tale of a dishevelled, brown-haired English Lit student named Anastasia Steele, nicknamed Ana (Dakota Johnson), who falls for a very boring, grey-eyed man named Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), the CEO of an enterprise that does, well, we’re not quite sure. But that doesn’t matter, what matters is that he’s got a smouldering gaze and a rock hard penis, oh, and countless dollar bills to buy stuff and fly around in a helicopter.
Taylor-Johnson strips away what little we learn about these panting protagonists in the books: Grey likes Kings of Leon and emailing, while Steele has a very annoying and infantile inner monologue (“Holy fuck. This is wrong, but holy hell is it erotic.”), as well as a bespectacled inner goddess who seems to be constantly dancing in her head (swaying a “victorious samba,” “spinning like a world-class ballerina,” and upon silver balls being shoved into Steele’s vagina, “doing the dance of the seven veils.”)
What we’re left with is…not much, with Johnson slightly maturing the character, by avoiding to call her laptop “the mean machine,” as she does in the book, and Dornan attempting to exude sex appeal while saying things like “I’m fifty shades of fucked up” and “I don’t make love. I fuck…hard.” He somehow came off as more sex-worthy playing Paul Spector, the psychopath serial killer in The Fall.
Perhaps Dornan is not to be blamed, perhaps it’s the omission of such personable dialogue as, “Okay…swallowing semen. Well, you get an A in that” and “Your ass will need training” that makes the character lose a little charm and believability on screen, no matter how undeniably skilled he is at ripping a condom wrapper with his teeth.
As for the sex, Taylor-Johnson also removes many of the hilarious sex hijinks imagined by James and replaces them with anti-climactic climaxes preceded by many shots of parted lips, pointed toes, hard nips and bushy pubes, while the soundtrack jumps from Beyonce’s moans to Danny Elfman’s manic piano mix.
Gone is Steele’s hilarious first foray into the wonderful world of bath fellatio (“he’s my very own Christian Grey flavour popsicle.”), amongst other things James pulled out of her wonky wank head.
Taylor-Johnson is hardly to blame for how fifty shades of super boring the whole debacle turns out to be. Most of James’ so-called erotic scenes begin with an erection pressed against a belly, Steele’s stomach muscles clenching “deliciously,” her nipples “elongating” and Grey eventually “filling her up,” while her inner monologue reels with Holy Fucks and Holy Cows.
While a whole lot has been said about the whole BDSM element, the kinkiest description of this lies in the detailed contract that Grey wants Steele to sign in order for her to becomes his “Submissive” and he, her “Dominant,” including the mention of butt plugs and genital clamps, which, of course, are never used, because Steele’s inner goddess might have imploded into a mental macarena and driven her over the edge. She mainly just gets tied up, sucks on some leather and needs baby oil for her “spanked ass.”
The thin plot that clumsily tied each childishly narrated sex scene together in the book makes even less sense in the film. Who is this guy? Why is he so rich? Why does he keep showing up wherever Ana is? Why is she not creeped out? Is a peacock feather really that orgasmic? Not that it made much more sense in print, but at least I was entertained by the terribly hilarious phrasing. Taylor-Johnson missed the opportunity to create something steamy from something silly. In other words, a porno! With real genitals!
The most confusing and puzzling aspect of all this is how millions of women will go watch this 2-hour long, back-arching snooze-fest, because they hope to get as creamed up as they were reading about a juvenile and virginal heroine with an imaginary dancing fairy in her head getting felt up by a stalking sociopath with a belly-rubbing boner.
To each her own I guess!
For those panting for more, I’d highly recommend “Sydney Sheldon,” who was a very old dude who wrote about countless “love mounds” getting “moistened” and “conquered” in the 70’s and 80’s. I read him when I was about 11. I can’t promise any yapping imaginary head goddesses though!
As for me, I’ll begin work on my master plan to hit the jackpot with a novel featuring a nondescript, beige-faced woman with a penchant for hand jobs and antiques.