Fifty Shades Film Review and Self-Reflection

It has been a long love affair that came to a head on Valentine’s Day. It was during my Master’s in Philosophy and Literature at the University of Warwick when I first dipped into Fifty Shades of Grey and ended up racing and re-racing through the trilogies.

I was Anastasia Steele – minus Grey. I had just graduated from English Literature, was about the same age as her, and going through a vulnerability too, maybe the same as Ana’s, about what it means to be a ‘woman’.

Minus Christian Grey – the hot, billionaire, business tycoon who showered Ana with gifts and love, and turned from a cold, control freak into a loving and emotional man – meant he became a beautiful ideal.

I began exploring relationships in greater depth by pairing together two of my modules – The Philosophy of Desire and Feminist Literature Theory – to trace back the origins of love and sadomasochistic relationships; psychoanalyse the reasons behind them; and explore the implications of these relationships for women and feminists, which eventually inspired my dissertation.

On the day of receiving my Master’s pass results, I met author E L James at The Savoy Hotel who congratulated me on my degree.

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Although the books sparked mixed opinions, I stood my ground in defending it in various articlesRegardless of its marmite flavour, nobody could deny it marking the beginning of a sexual revolution and liberation for women. What would Sigmund Freud blame every woman over the age of 30’s psychosis on now that we don’t have a need to repress our desires?!

As an Indian and a female, it marked a double liberation for me and I was able to begin writing and speaking about the taboo topic.

So, when I saw the film I was left utterly disappointed. It was not only vanilla, but lacked the emotion, tension, and character-development that is created so well in the books. Christian Grey is cold and one-dimensional making it difficult to sense his inner-grief and the psychology that the author so well develops in the books.

I have re-read the books many times when I want something easy to dip into. I admit, I notice Ana’s vulnerability more and more every time but the film brought it out vividly; making Grey’s stalker tendencies and control freak nature more poignant and, quite frankly, scary.

There were many points in the film when I wished her inner subconscious voice reared her ugly head and made her see some sense. For anyone who has not read the books, the film was an empty shell missing all the thoughts, feelings and deeper character development and emotions the books contain.

I stand by the sentiments written in my article ‘Is Feminism Destroying Love?’ in which I argue feminism and the notion of ‘The New Woman’ has changed what women require of love and therefore impacted the way men now behave (something I now believe technology has also played a role in).

I stand by it because I still believe in philosopher Michel Foucault’s theory on power not being vertical, and feel that the books represent this where power relations are dispersed, negotiated, and transgressed until they transpire (showing the development of Grey’s character). None of this is shown in the film.

The film made me view Grey as a manipulator and the Audi R8 gift a method of grooming.

The books now, due to the film, make me feel they are a product of a time in my life that I will not be revisiting. I’ll still watch the next two films out of curiosity. But it is time to find a new hero to fit not the New Woman but the new woman that I have become.

Amazing what a bad film can do isn’t it!

To Grey — Laters Baby.