Valentine’s Day brought an eclectic crowd to the Downer Theatre for its opening weekend screening of the tawdry romance, “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Sam Taylor-Johnson’s adaptation of E.L. James’ surprise-hit erotica stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.
We (Mary Jo and Jack) were curious as soon as we found out that this infamously masochistic story was being made into a film. When it was announced that Fifty Shades was going to be released on Valentine’s Day weekend, our plans were set; dinner, candles, popcorn, and a shirtless Jamie Dornan. An epic plan to say the least. Here are our separate, and unique takes on this experience. Enjoy.
Part 1: From a “Fifty Shades” Virgin
I don’t read. Erotica.
As the giggly twenty-something in our audience might say, it isn’t “my thing.” I identify as a queer young man who spends far too much time talking about film.
The Downer Theatre has become a safe haven of sorts for me. It prides itself as being the first stop for challenging and engaging independent films in Milwaukee. Naturally, the news that a studio film, “Fifty Shades of Grey” no less, would be opening at the art house came as a surprise.
A new film at the Downer will often times attract a humble crowd of fifty-somethings. The near-sold out audience at Saturday night’s screening was a welcome change of pace.
The room gave off a nervous, yet excited energy long before the film began. I settled into my seat expecting constant giggles and whispers to fill the theater. I was not disappointed.
During the first steamy encounter between Christian and Anastasia, a young woman leaned towards the screen with her phone in hand to take a picture of the shirtless couple, with the flash on. This was not the most absurd moment of my “Fifty Shades” experience however.
While others may be taken by the over-the-top sex scenes, I cannot forgive the film for its three most deplorable sins.
- English literature student Anastasia is gifted several luxuries by her billionaire love interest. None of which include a cell phone made after 2012. The girl still carries a flip phone. I don’t buy it.
- The two lovers are offered sushi by two throwaway characters and opt instead to admire their partner’s shirtless body. No one in their right mind should ever pass up sushi. I found the character wildly unlikeable. They don’t care for raw fish? I don’t buy it.
- What is “Fifty Shades of Grey’s” most disturbing sin? The soapy, melodrama. This isn’t excellent film making by any means, but it most definitely isn’t the unwatchable disaster that your Cheeto-fingered, neck bearded roommate has made it up to be.
– Jack Feria
Part 2: From a “Fifty Shades” Frequenter
I do read. Erotica.
Ah, yes. I do identify with the thousands of mommies out there that dared to engage in E.L. James’ steamy romance. Why? Because it’s hot. It’s tingly, can’t-read-in-public, makes-you-want-to-buy-grey-ties-for-fun hot!
As a semi-frequenter of literature and an over-frequenter of cinema, I found this book into film franchise fun, yet disappointing on several different levels.
What I liked:
- Well, Jamie Dornan. He’s fifty shades of where have you been all my life.
- The chemistry between the actors is undeniable. I enjoyed reading and watching interviews with Dornan and Johnson regarding filming the more risqué scenes. They seem so respectful of each other off-screen that it made me not think too hard about the roughness on-screen.
- I appreciate Dakota Johnson’s imperfect looks. She’s not a typical Hollywood bombshell, which is not what Anastasia is supposed to look like at all. She’s supposed to look innocent and understated. Spoiler, she also sports pubic hair, something that my generation has built up to be sexually undesirable. I applaud it.
- The soundtrack is the BOMB.com.
What I didn’t like:
- The script is so weak. I admire the actors’ effort, but they’re given the most ridiculous lines to say. I don’t even think Meryl Streep could give that script justice.
- The toast bit. You’ll know what I mean when you see it.
- Not enough sex. There, I said it for you. There is plenty of lip-biting and heavy breathing to go around, but I want more butts.
- On a continuation about Johnson’s pubic hair, I was taken aback at the amount of lewd comments circulating the theater after it was first shown. I don’t think “ew” should be the first thing that comes out of people’s mouths when a body is shown the way it was made. But hey, that’s just me.
– Mary Jo Contino
View the “Fifty Shades” trailer here: