Appealing portrayals boost appalling romance | Inquirer Entertainment

Appealing portrayals boost appalling romance

By: - Entertainment Editor
/ 12:54 AM February 14, 2015

DORNAN AND JOHNSON. Bizarre relationship

DORNAN AND JOHNSON. Bizarre relationship

Why do we hurt the ones we love? It’s a question that resonates with the incurable romantic in us. But, Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), the 27-year-old protagonist of E.L. James’ erotic novel, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” goes beyond schmaltzy metaphor and rhetoric—he derives pleasure, sexual or otherwise, by inflicting physical pain on his partner.

Christian’s company allegedly feeds thousands of hungry children in Africa—so, why can’t he be allowed to spank, whip or flog his “willing” victims? Depraved as that may sound, he finally finds his reluctant enabler in a lip-biting virgin, Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), a literature major with a 4.0 g.p.a. who is suddenly thrust into the high life when she strikes a contentious deal with the tenacious telecom mogul, who is as dishy as he is emotionally distant and damaged.


If Ana acquiesces to his depraved sexual shenanigans and other strange demands, she can play out her wildest fairy-tale fantasies with her dashing Prince Charming—drive to school in a new car, dine and wine at the swankiest restaurants, get her own room at the eligible but elusive bachelor’s penthouse, travel cross-country on private planes and helicopter, and refurbish her schoolgirl outfits with the glitziest wardrobe money can buy.


Unfortunately, the contract does not include love, romantic dates, and postcoital snuggling—a big turn-off for the touchy-feely Anastacia. What to do? It doesn’t take long for her to realize that her hunky “partner in crime” breaks his own rules as fast as he makes them—which gives hope for the modern Princess’ yearning to ride happily into the sunset!

It is probably this wish-fulfillment aspect of Christian and Anastacia’s illicit and ambiguous relationship that has women swooning, sighing and shrieking, as was apparent when we caught the film’s first screening last Wednesday—after all, the novel on which it is based has become the fastest-selling paperback in the UK, with more than 100,000 copies sold on its first week alone!

Director Sam Taylor-Johnson gives the franchise a sophisticated look and a modicum of credibility—and even with its R-rated content, it doesn’t reek with as much perverse danger as, say, Adrian Lyne’s “Nine 1/2 Weeks” or those early European skin flicks and dramatic scorchers from Paul Verhoeven.

It doesn’t hurt that Johnson and Dornan are attractive actors who know how to turn on the charm (and cheek) when they need to. You can’t blame the ladies in the audience for demanding to see more skin from Dornan, who’s often seen “doing the deed” with his pants on—and when he does take it off, you’ll find yourself gawking at dark screens and blurs to conceal his chiselled nakedness. And Johnson? Let’s just say that she’s bolder. —Talk about gender insensitivity and inequality, this is a classic case.

James’ “mommy porn” tackles child abuse and the sado-masochistic, dominant-submissive behavior that’s born out of it.

Yes, much of what Ana is subjected to is for the most part consensual. But, while we’re all for romantic diversity, it’s hard to sympathize with a woman who doesn’t run far away from her “lover” when terms of her contract with him stipulate practices that could endanger her life! Can’t Christian splurge on shrinks and life coaches, instead?


Besides, doesn’t “dangerous sex,” even when consensual, constitute violence? Moreover, if Dornan were old, penniless and butt-ugly, would it still be alright to “romanticize” his unusual proclivities?

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TAGS: “Fifty Shades of Grey”, Dakota Johnson, E.L. James, Jamie Dornan, Sam Taylor-Johnson

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