I’m not generally known for my choice of high literature when it comes to reading. My Dad – a former school teacher and head of English – told me many years ago that as long as I was reading something then that was better than nothing.
I may or may not have taken Dad on his word MY ENTIRE LIFE.
I am part of a highly intellectual book club but my not-so-secret reading habits involve books that would never make our list.
Way before said book club, I was downloading books to read on my iPad for our 2012 trip to the US.
Every woman and her dog was reading Fifty Shades of Grey and I love a bandwagon as much as the next person so jump on it I did.
And I read all three books. From Australia, to New York, to the West Coast and back home, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele kept me company.
Was it life-changing and mind-expanding literature? NO. Was it escapism? YES.
Did I labour through books two and three just because I wanted to see how their relationship panned out? YOU BET.
I was sucked right in.
I in no way endorse or approve of Mr Grey’s “singular” approach to relationships. Far from it, I abhor it.
But I don’t believe the story “glorifies” domestic violence. Just like if I read a book or see a movie that involves murder, I don’t believe that work of fiction is glorifying crime and death.
I’m the first to admit that I’m a romantic at heart. Strip away the violence, the whips and the ropes and that’s what kept me reading.
Never read the books? In a nutshell, Anastasia is a naive, young university student, who by chance meets a hot young, super successful and rich businessman.
She falls hard for him and he is very much taken with her. The thing is he doesn’t do the boyfriend-girlfriend thing. He creates legal contracts and sets up dominant-submissive relationships with the women he decides he wants in one compartment of his life.
By his own admission he is 50 shades of f*@#ked up thanks to an early childhood of neglect and abuse – and his teenage years taken from him by a family friend who seduced him and made him a submissive at the age of 15.
Anastasia hasn’t had the most stable of upbringings either. Her mum is married to her fourth husband. Her only rock is her step-dad – her mum’s second husband.
The premise and the plot is nothing new or groundbreaking (it was originally fan fiction that grew out of the Twilight novels … Edward and Bella anyone?), yet 100 million people have bought the books.
What that says to me is that people will read what they want – not want critics say they should read.
I predict the same for the movie.
On Wednesday night I frocked up and met Mr SY at New Farm Cinemas in Brisbane for the Queensland premiere of Fifty Shades of Grey.
Mr SY was definitely in the minority at the screening – he was male AND he hadn’t read the books.
I asked him for his verdict …
She was pretty cute. I was wondering how he got so rich but was so messed up. It was frustrating because it was clearly a restrained version of what would happen (I think he’s talking about the bedroom/playroom scenes). I couldn’t believe she’d jumped in so quickly. It’s a typical trilogy movie. You’re left hanging at the end. There’s no closure.
I could leave you there but – as someone who’s read the books – I’ll give my two cents’ worth.
I don’t have the same opinion as The Today Show’s Lisa Wilkinson has. There are movies you go to see because they are life-changing and thought-challenging and there are movies you go to see for a night out that doesn’t require a whole lot of thinking or analysis.
Because of the pop culture nature and cult following of 50 Shades of Grey, it’s receiving scrutiny of a level usually reserved for Academy-Award-nominated movies.
That to me is just plain crazy and just a whole lot of over-thinking.
I think the screenwriters did a good job taking a flawed text and translating it for the big screen given the parameters that they would have had to work with to create something less than an X-rated movie.
The characters were given a little more dimension, intelligence and humour than I felt they had in the book. I found Anastasia incredibly frustrating in the book – and yes there is still that frustration around her character in the movie – but the movie script gave us glimpse of a woman she could be given the chance.
The forty-something woman I am certainly wanted to shake her and make her say no and stand up for herself but the 20-something woman I once was – a woman who made her fair share of relationship mistakes – got it.
Dakota Johnson as Anastasia was a good casting. For people of my vintage, she’s Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson’s daughter and I saw more than a hint of Melanie’s ’80s Working Girl vulnerability in Dakota’s performance.
Jamie Dorman as Christian Grey very much fits the bill. He had a problem with keeping his shirt on though. Not that anyone in the cinema seemed perturbed by that in the slightest.
I think this is a movie that you will want to see if you read the books.
It’s a movie you should see with others who have read the books. Think girls’ night out rather than a date night movie.
That way you are all on the same page (pun very much intended) and can dissect every little bit over a wine afterwards.
So tell me, have you seen Fifty Shades of Grey as yet? Planning on going? Thoughts?