My take on 50 Shades…

50 shadesAs with many things, I came to 50 Shades of Grey later than most.

Normally, this is because I like to let the dust settle and the hype die down before making up my own mind about something without all the noise.

However, in this case, my reason can be summed up in two words.

My mum.

We share a love of romantic fiction – in fact it was her books I used to borrow (is it still borrowing if I did it secretly) as a teenager. We like some of the same authors now and she occasionally lends me books. I wasn’t surprised when she said she had bought 50 Shades from a charity shop, although I wasn’t sure it was quite her thing, or when she asked if I wanted it next.

It was the fact she then added: “There isn’t anything shocking in there, it’s very tame.”

Tame? TAME! Waaaaaay too much information between mother and (prudish) daughter on so many levels. Given the hoopla surrounding some of the themes of the book, which I had been led to believe were anything but tame, it put me off reading (or even thinking about) them for a good while.

After having Freya, though, when actually having “relations” was The Last Thing I wanted to do ever again, I thought I might as well give the books a go – well, the first two at least, I never got round to the third but that’s not because I didn’t like them.

I wasn’t expecting much. Lots of Facebook friends had complained about how badly written they were and how some of them paged through the sex scenes after a while etc but I was quietly surprised. Yes, they are a bit repetitive but I actually really enjoyed the way the characters developed and almost the way the tables are turned on Christian Grey. Far from being a helpless character lured into a world she wasn’t ready for and didn’t want, I actually felt that from pretty early on it was clear that Ana was the one in charge.

When a friend asked if I would go and see the film with her, I had no qualms about saying yes. We decided there would be less chance of being surrounded by giggling teenagers if we went to the art cinema. We arrived a couple of minutes early and two dozen or so people were waiting outside the screen, including a priest/vicar in floor length black robes and dog collar who was flicking through a magazine. My friend and I exchanged glances, wondering if he was there as some sort of protest or if he just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. When he waited outside while everyone filed in, it appeared to be neither of those reasons.

Anyway, just as with the books I was quietly surprised by the film. I haven’t read any of the reviews, although couldn’t help but see some of the headlines – many of which declared it not very good. I always feel when something is hyped this much that people are just waiting to knock it down.

I thought Dakota Johnson was very good (such beautiful eyes) and the Jamie Dornan wasn’t quite what I expected (I didn’t like the way his suits fitted and he didn’t seem like someone in charge of anything let alone a huge company) but maybe that’s because I had a fairly clear idea from the books about who he was and the type of person he would be and no actor could fill his shoes? I was amazed at Jennifer Ehle playing Ana’s mum, wasn’t she just Lizzie Bennet?

I think they pushed the limits of what would be accepted in an 18 film but to me the sexual scenes didn’t feel out of place or badly done (shows how our attitudes have changed over the years, I think). In fact, I thought the whole film was well shot with some beautiful locations and sets, which I’m sure had much to do with Sam Taylor-Johnson.

I was actually quite surprised when, 20 minutes in, three people walked out. Nothing had really happened then. It was more like your average chick flick – although maybe that was the problem? There has been such expectation about the film and its content. It also seems that a lot of the negative comments I’ve been reading are from people who haven’t actually seen it.

Of course, as with everything, our own baggage has a huge part to play in our experience of something. I have never (thankfully) been in a physically abusive relationship or experienced BDSM and maybe if I had my view would be entirely different. As I said, both in the books and in the film Ana, to me, is a strong, fun, intelligent and beautiful character who changes Christian for the better. And it is also clear that the woman who lured Christian into that world at 15 is viewed as an abuser – at least by Ana. My friend had never read the books and she felt the same.

Would I want Freya in a relationship like that at 21? Just because it isn’t my cup of tea doesn’t make it wrong. Obviously I wouldn’t want Freya in any relationship that caused her pain but then again, she won’t be dating until she is at least 25 maybe 30, so I have a while to instil the same sort of spirit, independence and intelligence in her that Ana has.

Will 50 Shades win any awards? No, probably not any mainstream ones. Does it deserve to? Well, the trailers were for Cake, starring Jennifer Aniston and Still Alice with Julianne Moore. Even from the tiny bits I saw of them, there was no comparison.

But it is what it is.

Maybe I will read number three and see how it all ends.

Have you been to see it? What did you think?

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13 thoughts on “My take on 50 Shades…

  1. I have missed all the books and the film, I too tend to discover things late, I did with Twilight, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared, I don’t get much chance to read anymore though!

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  2. Haa your mums comment made me laugh, because that’s exactly what my mum said! 😀 I’ve not read the books or seen the film, I’ll probably check out the film eventually, but there not my kind of book, more of a Bernard Cornwell fan. I know I’ll be picking at the BDSM parts throughout, as I am a fan of a bit of kink…we’ll see! 😉 Makes a nice change to read a review that isn’t in moral uproar to be honest 😉

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    1. Thank you. That’s partly why I wrote it. Just because BDSM isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, doesn’t make it abuse. Don’t get me wrong, I would say the film is more a wait for DVD, especially given the trailers I saw for but I don’t think it warrants so much criticism.

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  3. I also tend to keep away from books and movie that are really hyped up. I haven’t read 50 shades and probably won’t. I have been a victim of abuse so that makes it even more likely I would hate it. I heard one media personality, ( a woman), calling the movie: “more appalling than appealing” and the only reason she “stayed to the end to watch this domestic violence dressed up as romance with a billionaire [character], who never appears to work, was the choc top ice cream” she ate whilst watching it!! Little consolation! I guess if I was into romance novels, which I’m not, I might indeed have a different view. However,domestic violence is a grave concern for society, so I would hesitate to see it myself. Permission to treat a person as a “sex toy” male or female, (correct me if this is not the generalist view), would be something I would find hard to digest. Having said all that, it was interesting to read your viewpoint. Thanks for posting.

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    1. I’m sorry to hear that, Amanda. I absolutely agree that domestic violence is a grave concern. And perhaps if I had experienced it, I would also have issues with the film.

      I’ve also heard that the film is being unrealistic, possibly from the same lady you mention, but it doesn’t say it’s supposed to be a true story. It’s a fantasy. Just as I don’t think people who go to watch an action film expect it to be true, I don’t think many readers of romantic fiction, which I am much more familiar with, expect the perfect billionaire “My Right” to actually appear in real life.

      For what it’s worth, I think you are right not to see it.

      Thank you for commenting, I appreciate hearing an alternative point of view.

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  4. I haven’t read the books, but mainly because of the negative hype you mention, and about them being badly written. So I stuck with the ‘don’t waste your life on a bad book’ motto! But I loved your review of the books and film – I so agree that often successful things get knocked for the sake of it, and also that there is a lot of snobbery in the book and film world, and definitely that opinion catches. Am planning to see the film when / if it hits Sky and see what’s what. It will be interesting to see Jamie Doran in it after 2 series of The Fall!

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I think waiting for it to some on Sky or DVD is a good move. I was unaware of Jamie Dornan before 50. He seems like a good actor. Quite brave to take on such a part too! Thanks for commenting 🙂

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