Some time ago a friend of my former partner involved herself in writing romance novels for a mass market publishing firm. She never showed any aptitude in writing before, but it was something to do next to running the family, which pinned her to her house for the better part of the day. The writing didn’t ask much imagination as the stories were pretty formulaic. Like painting by numbers she just stayed within predefined boundaries and soon enough she cranked out another cheap novelette under the name of a non-existent writer such as D. J. Barding.
The ingredients were always the same. The main protagonist was a woman aged twenty something to forty, single, and without any kids to tie her down. The man was in the same age range, but always a few years older, single as well, without romantic involvements. A setup to pursue their dalliance. Also the man was usually of a higher social standing and income group. She being a nurse, him being a doctor. She being a maiden, him being a lord. She being a student, him being a billionaire. And finally there was always something to surmount: a troubled past or a social barrier. The end saw the two joined in happy union. Usually.
It is almost verbatim the story outline of fifty shades of grey.
At this point you would expect me to start a long list of this movie’s shortcomings, but I have to disappoint you for I am on the same page with the nostalgia critic in that this movie does the best with what it has got . In fact I will do one better. I find it a hilarious movie and it might be aiming for cult status by making a mockery of itself and of you.
There are preposterous moments such as at the beginning when the female protagonist, Anna, tells to a friend that Grey is so clean. Wait. What did she just say? I checked and, heck, she says it: clean.. Grey is clean. This is her appraisal of a guy she just met. And somewhat further into the movie he pops up in the hardware store she is working in and starts buying things as tie ribs, ropes and chains. And I doubled over laughing. Was this a promise of things to come? Would she, later on, be subjected to what he is buying together with her there and then?
And when he shows her his ‘play room’, a chamber done in black and red with racks filled with whips, floggers and canes – with only the bloody saw missing -, the only valid response would be to judge him batshit crazy and flee the premises, but instead she gapes as if he just revealed his private art collection, while at the same time listening to him telling her how he will use that stuff on her cause it is the only thing that turns him on. It is perfectly clear: they are seriously odd in the head.
More hilarious moments follow when they come to the contract he so persistently insists upon. So we get a lengthy exposition of all the particulars of the fetish contract and she even calls for a meeting to go point for point through the contract discussing such things as the use vaginal clamps and anal fisting. All things he wants to do to her.
Everything is off kilter in this movie that follows the prescription of a cheap romance flick but fills it with concepts that hail from the fetish world. He keeps on telling her how does not do the romantic thing, but for a large part of the movie he just does that, taking her with him in his helicopter, driving her around in his Lamborghini, taking her out for dinner and wooing her. He says A, but does B. And she believes B and ignores A. No wait she eventually begs him to do A. And when it happens she is really really upset about it.
This movie is a trashy romantic tale that you wouldn’t have wanted to see if it it hadn’t held the promise of kinkiness. The sin of this movie therefore lies not with the movie, but with its detractors. What did you expect? Romeo and Jullia go kinky? Pride and Prejudice in skin tight leathers? Superheroes in latex instead of spandex? I am looking at you who goes to watch this on Valentine’s day and gets disappointed! What where you thinking? You knew it is crap. You know crap stays crap because only in nature crap can produce roses. But ultimately what you wanted was PG rated kinky porn. That is by definition impossible. PG is not adult. If you want to see kinky porn go watch kinky porn.
It also gives a big middle finger to those who wanted so see their desire to have a continuous sexual stimulus, cloaked as having a ‘special’ relationship, a joining of spirits, vindicated and branded as a lifestyle. BDSM isn’t. You do it cause it turns you on. Just like using butt-plugs all the time : it is a fetish. And it remains disturbed if you need to hurt someone else for pleasure even if it is with consent and even if you label it differently. And that is what this movie shows you bondage fetishists and that is why you hate it .