As an advocate for sexual freedom and expression, as well as a self-proclaimed sexpert, I am disappointed — to say the least — by the second installment in the “Fifty Shades” trilogy.
Allow me to set the scene: Seattle, Washington.
Anastasia Steele has a new job at an independent publishing company where she gets to be assistant to the predatorial Jack Hyde. She’s emotionally distraught over her breakup with Christian Grey, Seattle’s most eligible bachelor/billionaire and CEO of Grey Enterprises.
The movie attempts suspense, as a mystery girl follows Anastasia around and says cryptic things like, “What do you have that I don’t?” We later find out that this is one of Christian’s former subs, Leila, who has had a psychotic break.
Approximately 40 minutes into the film, after Christian asks Anastasia to move in with him (two days after getting back together, mind you), she returns to her apartment to gather her things. Unbeknownst to her, Leila is inside waiting with a gun. Anastasia tries to reason with her, but Leila fires the gun off to the side. Christian bursts through the door and looks Leila directly the eyes, and a weird hypnosis between the two begins. He mutters a few words to her, and she drops the gun, kneels before him and he begins stroking her hair.
It’s revealed that Christian is not a Dom, he’s a sadist. He likes to “punish” pale, brunette young women who look like his birth mother, a crack whore who neglected him and allowed him to be brutally abused.
So many things happen in that movie that my brain couldn’t even keep up with the story. Granted, “Fifty Shades Darker” is a step up from the national tragedy that was “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Both Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson have improved on-camera chemistry, the sexy scenes were more sexy, the soundtrack is good, per usual, production quality was better and overall, the story is clearer than in the first movie.
But the story still has no focus, and the plot is even more sick and twisted than the first. It’s an inaccurate, hyper-fictionalized and romanticized portrayal of BDSM, and I still want to punch whoever wrote the script in the throat. I thought nothing could be worse than the dialogue from the first movie (ex. Christian after kissing Anastasia for the first time: “Where have you been?” Anastasia: “Waiting.”) but boy, was I wrong.
There is something so wrong about this movie — this series — but I couldn’t put my thumb on what was bothering me until I saw “Fifty Shades Darker.” So I made a list:
Primarily, it grinds my gears that Christian never wears a condom. Not once. Not a single time that they’re doing the bang-boom does he slide on a rubber — which is something that he always did in the books. And that my friends, is not practicing safe sex. Cover your snake.
Most importantly, BDSM is a dope sexual subculture in which a consenting dominant and a consenting submissive can explore their kinks and sexual fantasies. What bothers me most about the Fifty Shades trilogy is that Anastasia is a consenting submissive, under the premise that Christian is simply a dominant, someone who is the controlling sexual participant. But Christian is not a dominant. He is a sadist.
His character specifically selects women who resemble his deceased mother, and he gets some sort of arousal from seeing them in pain or suffering . . . that’s not BDSM; that’s called Sexual Sadism Disorder. Consult a DSM — it’s a very real and serious psychological condition. I highly doubt if that was made clear to Ana from the get, she would’ve consented to any sexual activity with Christian at all, but I suppose that’s what makes the title so ironic — the fifty shades of grey area is pretty much the entirety of the sexual acts Ana consents to.
Not to mention, after the big confession — the moment where he despairingly tells Ana that he is indeed a sadist — it’s glazed over for the rest of the movie like it’s no big deal.
Shame on E.L James for turning a mental illness into an internationally sought-after sexual phenomenon.
This movie earned over $10.9 million only five days after its timely release before Valentine’s Day, according to Forbes. People seem to eat it up — the sex, the plot, the dreamy actors. But if you’re using this movie as a means to simply explore your own sexuality, I urge you to go to a different source. Buy a book with Fabio on the cover, rent a soft-core, hard-core, what-have-you porno. But please, do not waste your money on this movie.
(fifty shades of f—ed up/5 stars)