Women of the Free Press unite…

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<p>Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey (left) and Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele in “Fifty Shades Darker: the world’s most uptight sex movie.</p>
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<p>Doane Gregory/Universal Pictures</p>
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Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey (left) and Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele in “Fifty Shades Darker: the world’s most uptight sex movie.

Fifty Shades Darker, the second film in the inexplicably popular erotica trilogy based on E L James’ bestsellers, opened last Friday.

Three women from the Free Press Arts & Life department — Erin Lebar, Jill Wilson and Jen Zoratti — saw this movie and all of them had lots to say about the story of the tortured BDSM relationship between Anastasia Steele (played by Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan).

Of course, not everything can make it into the space of a single movie review, so they decided to go deep (sorry) on Fifty Shades Darker.

Spoiler alert: the movie is terrible.

Actual spoiler alert: several plot points are revealed throughout, but it doesn’t matter. Honest.

Fifty Shades author EL James: Weaver of stories.

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Fifty Shades author EL James: Weaver of stories.

Jen Zoratti

So, I think we all agree that this movie was very bad.

 

Erin Lebar

I think one of the main issues is that it so unnecessarily long. It felt long.

 

Jill Wilson

You should not be looking at your watch at an erotic movie.

It wouldn’t have been good, but it would have been better to have the two of them in their bubble working out their relationship.

Instead, I guess E L James got her (screenwriter) husband to throw in all the extraneous details from her book, because she thinks of herself as more than an erotic writer. She’s a storyteller.

Erin

She’s a weaver.

 

Jill

All that extra — that helicopter crash. (Note: Christian is in an inexplicable helicopter crash.)

 

Erin

That was my favourite part. It was probably the most expensive 30 seconds in that entire movie and it added literally nothing to the plot.

Not only was he unscathed, he managed to pull out a perfectly wrapped box out of his pocket.

Jill

And yet his phone was ruined.

 

Jen

And when he shows up at his house where his family has gathered to watch the news, with an artful trickle of blood in his hairline, and is all, “What are you guys even doing here?”

He’s such a petulant child.

Jill

That’s actually my main issue with him in both movies, is how petulant he seems.

When he doesn’t get his way with Ana — which is often with her because she’s so feisty — he’s sulky.

There’s nothing sexy about that. He’s not brooding.

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<p>Jamie Dornan, sulking and inexplicably wearing a shirt as Christian Grey in “Fifty Shades Darker.””> </a><figcaption>
<p>DOANE GREGORY / UNIVERSAL PICTURES</p>
<p>Jamie Dornan, sulking and inexplicably wearing a shirt as Christian Grey in “Fifty Shades Darker.”</p>
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Jen

We do not see enough of his body, overall. Like, if this garbage is supposed to be for ladies, where are the lascivious body shots?

Jill

It’s an 18A, so I assume you can show whatever you want. Although we don’t see her genitals either. You’d think that a brief flash of (pause) wiener —

Erin

— (Does a high British accent) ‘Tis a brief flash of wiener, please.

What bothered me is that he never took off his pants. A normal man is, like, pants off before you’re even in the house, right?

Jill

Jen had pointed this out in the first movie, that despite all the kinkiness, the sex is almost always missionary and vanilla.

Erin

When they were in the Red Room (Christain’s BSDM chamber), all he did was put some pretty mild-looking furry handcuffs on her, pour body oil on her — and then have missionary sex with her.

That’s, like, a regular Tuesday night.

Jill

I thought the oil was going to be, like, BOILING HOT or something.

 

Jen

Or that other scene where he gets her into a leg-spreader. It seemed like a lot of work, his brow was practically furrowed with effort. And then they had missionary sex.

Jill

What I find interesting is that these books were so huge, partially, is because it was the dawn of the e-reader and you could read them secretly. These movies are the opposite.

It’s like, you’re going with a group and it’s a girl’s night naughty thing, so they have to make it not smutty. It seems to me it should just go straight to video.

Jen

Not only is the sex not sexy, it’s not fun.

 

Jill

It’s just so dour. Like, this one was a little bit more fun than the last one. The last one was like — “This is a chore that we’re going to go through because I need to find out what your limits are” — but there was no sense of enjoyment.

My friend said the only scene she found really sexy (in Fifty Shades Darker) was the one on the elevator where Ana has taken her underwear off, because the look on Christian’s face was playful. That makes it sexy.

Whereas he’s usually like, “You’re not going to enjoy this but we’re doing it anyway.”

Erin

Buckle down and think of England.

Jen

Also, are we supposed to know who Kim Basinger’s character is?

 

Jen

It’s really hemmed in by the idea that you can’t be kinky for kink’s sake. It has to be pathologized and rooted in trauma.

And, of course, his issue is “I like to punish women who look like my mom.” Who, of course, was a crack-addicted prostitute who looked exactly like Anastasia.

Jill

That scene was extremely upsetting, I thought.

 

Jen

There’s this whole scene where she’s stalking and then tries to kill Ana, and then she’s just gone.

Jen

I find it also very unlikely that he would propose marriage and she’d say yes. That seems… incorrect.

Jill

They had just had multiple issues, and Mrs. Robinson is still in the picture, and he’s just revealed that he has issues with his mom and he wants to hurt women who look like his mom and then he’s like, “So, will you marry me?”

She’s not a stupid person.

Erin

My favourite scene is when Kim Basinger, who I didn’t know was Kim Basinger, gets a drink thrown in her face.

And then 15 seconds later, gets the biggest slap across the face ever, out of nowhere. The whole audience was like, ‘Whoa!’

Jen

I love how, in the drink scene, it’s clearly from two different takes because there’s a solid 15-second delay between the cocktail leaving the glass and contact.

Jill

It was really like a bunch of different movies sewn together. Lots of digressions that were of no value.

Jen

It also had a cold open featuring a fairly intense domestic-violence scene, ostensibly to provide some insight into Why Christian Is How He Is.

And we never talk again about Christian’s obviously violent dad.

Jill

I thought it was a preview for another movie when it started. There’s a lot of assumption you’ve read the books.

I’m sort of surprised anyone would bother (with the movie) because it’s so watered-down — although it has to be, because you don’t want to sit in the theatre and watch actual pornography.

It’s such a compromise for people who like the books. The movies just seem pointless to me.

Jen

I still don’t understand why they won’t show full-frontal male nudity, although that seems pretty typical of Hollywood.

We only ever see penises in a non-sexual context or in a penises-are-funny context.

Jill

The scene where she’s in that whole garter-belt get-up, that was a male fantasy up the wazoo…

Erin

And then she wasn’t even wearing it under her dress.

 

Jill

In the books, which are from her point of view, you can see her wearing it; she would be saying, “I feel sexy in this.” As a reader, you get that.

As a viewer, you’re like, “I don’t need to see her in that.” And then he comes in, fully clothed.

But again, you could say that women like to see a man in a tuxedo more than they want to see a man’s dong.

Jen

I think a lot of women also put themselves in the place of Anastasia — what happens to her onscreen is what happens to them in fantasy.

I don’t think it’s about wanting to have her body or to look like her, I think it’s just about imagining how X would feel.

Erin

All the clichés were there, too. Like she gets up and wraps herself in his dress shirt and it’s just appropriately too large for her tiny frame.

Jen

And great comedic timing.

Jill

I just wish her dialogue was stronger.

Erin

The conversations are like, “Hey.” “Hi.” “What did you do today?” “I was at work.” “Laterz baby.”

Jen

There’s so much tell and not enough show.

There’s no art to it at all. It’s painfully literal. Like, he just tells her he’s sadist, nothing is left for us, or her, to figure out.

Jill

“You’re not going to read anything in the tortured eyes in the photo of my mother, or my Chronicles of Riddick poster.”

Why is his (childhood) bedroom the size of a postage stamp? His family home has a ballroom in it.

Jen

There’s no sexy dialogue, either.

 

Erin

“Take off your panties.”

 

Jill

That’s why I don’t understand why the movies are so popular. Sexiness is so much about the relationship between the two people and they don’t have one.

Jen

Too late! Everyone already thinks that about me.

 

Jill

But I like terrible romcoms that aren’t empowering, where women think they can change their man, and do change their man.

I just find that this is inhuman. It’s not fun.

Jen

I also enjoy things that are problematic. It’s like that Onion article, Woman Takes Short Half-Hour Break From Being Feminist To Enjoy TV Show.

But that’s really hard to do here, because a lot of these scenes just read as abusive.

Especially with the new information about him, and that scene with the sub where he tells her to kneel.

Jill

Submissives are supposed to be in charge in those relationships, and that woman was not in charge of anything.

Erin

Closing statements?

 

Jen

This is the world’s most uptight sex movie.

 

Jill

I will say the one good thing about the movie is they do a shout-out to Working Girl (which starred Dakota Johnson’s mom, Melanie Griffith) and it made me laugh out loud.

Why can’t they have that sense of humour throughout? I don’t want people to think I’m prudish, because I’m not — it’s just unsatisfying.

Erin

I love smut as much as the next person, and I love a good terrible movie, but it needs to have thought and effort put into it.

This seems like they didn’t care, or rushed to get it out.

Jen

The bad movie is bad. Don’t see it.

 


Read more by Jen Zoratti, Jill Wilson and Erin Lebar.

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