Monday 23 April 2018

Corny, yes, but Fifty Shades of Grey will have a special appeal for women

Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Not since 'Sex and the City 2' has such hype and hysteria among a (predominantly) female audience surrounded a movie's release.

It's hardly surprising given 'Fifty Shades of Grey' is the big-screen adaptation of EL James's best-selling erotic romance novel. Having been translated into 50-plus languages, it traverses continents, and generations, in its appeal.

But however poor the novel's prose (it's bad), and however coyly written the sex scenes (the protagonist exclaims "Oh my!" like it's 1852 whenever she's sexually excited), 'Fifty Shades of Grey' gave women permission to indulge in sexual fantasy in their daily lives.

It wasn't marketed as soft porn, or even erotic fiction. It arrived at a time when women could read it on their Kindle without anyone clocking the book cover. Its success has reignited the erotic literature industry and spawned myriad copycat novels.

What is refreshing about the film also is that the sex scenes focus almost entirely on female sexual pleasure.

The power is almost always entirely in the hands of the female protagonist. Yes, he wants her to be his sub, but she questions and debates and negotiates the terms.

Whether you are a fan of the book, as a woman the film appeals for all these reasons.

It's an intense, humourless, sometimes depressing watch with its feet firmly in the romantic drama as opposed to romantic comedy camp, but it boasts a protagonist who starts out naive and evolves to become more self-assured, more empowered and more comfortable in exploring her sexuality.

Now it is finally hitting cinemas, after months of anxiety over casting (was Jamie Dornan the right choice after Charlie Hunnam dropped out? Who is Dakota Johnson?). Despite reports of clashes between author - and producer - EL James, and director Sam Taylor Johnson, and more column inches than could ever be justified, it's set to break the box office.

The movie makers are clapping their hands in glee - two sequels to complete the trilogy have already been green-lit.

Rival studios are undoubtedly frantically buying rights and storyboarding erotic romance movies in an effort to cash in.

And that may be the legacy of 'Fifty Shades' - a plethora of erotic romance flicks aimed squarely at women.

Irish Independent

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