Warning, the following review may be offensive and is intended for adult audiences only, it may also contain spoilers.
Now let me say from the outset, in the past I have done reviews that have caused me to lose friends both on social media and real friends just for the fact that I have chosen to review the movie. I suspect that will be the case for my review of Fifty Shades of Grey. Let me also say, as a film reviewer it is my obligation to review film, even film some may not like, or for that matter, film I may not like, just as a Christian plumber does the work they do, I do the work I do, which is review film, and find points of truth to point people to Christ if possible.
The truth is, protests, news stories and all of the controversy drove me to want to see the movie, not stay away from it. Many will ask why, well let me be clear; most of the time when I have seen protests and controversy like exists with this movie, it drives me to want to see it, and this time, like many others, I believe the comments about the movie are greatly over exaggerated, in more ways than one, and the movie that is being protested is so far from what is being said about it that it is unbelievable. In fact most of the time those protests come from people who have not seen the film or know anything about it other than what they have been told.
Now some facts about Fifty Shades of Grey. Does the movie contain scenes of explicit sex? Yes, albeit not as explicit as I thought although there is a great deal of nudity in the film. Does the film contain sadomasochism or dominance and submission sex? Yes! Does it glorify this act? Absolutely not!
This film is the story of a soon to be college English Lit major graduate, Anastasia Steele played quite well and innocently by Dakota Johnson. While doing a report for her friend and roommate she goes from Portland to Seattle to interview young billionaire, Christian Grey. In a sort of twisted tale, resembling at times Last Tango in Paris, a relationship develops between Steele and Grey. Grey has secrets though, secrets that go back to a childhood that included being involved in sexual acts at the age of 15 in a non voluntary way, (BTW this is rape for those that don’t know). There is more to his past but we are left to figure much of that out. Steele, a virgin falls in love with Grey although the feeling is not quite amicable. Now at this part as the story develops and concludes I was reminded that this movie is based off of the first book of a 3 book series. In that every show for the Friday, Saturday opening weekend is sold-out in Wichita, I suspect the movie will do well enough to make the other two films at some point.
On a technical perspective, the film is well lit, a lot of great cinematography and a very interesting story line that is about far more than sex, although sex is a backdrop to the story but more on that in a sermon a little later. I was also frankly surprised at the level of character development and for a movie of this sort, at a little over 2 hours I felt myself compelled to the characters and the story, and while there is a great deal of nudity in the movie it was not nearly as important to me as the characters in the story. That for me causes me to give kudos to the director, Sam Taylor-Johnson.
Now back to another question just for clarification. Am I promoting this movie? Absolutely not, I will say in fact, many need to stay away from it as they may not be mature enough to deal with the subject matter. I would imagine for example teen age, hormonal individuals will focus more on the nudity and sex than they do the actual story. In this area, I must also make another comment, just as many Christians have gone overboard to be critical of what they believe the story is, so have many others who are promoting the story as a sordid love story. The truth of the matter is, Fifty Shades of Grey is not a horrible promotion of perverted sex, neither is it a lustful, to be desired love story. It is instead, a story that deals with the after effects of many of sexual abuse.
Those who know me as more than a movie reviewer also knows my history and of my book The Keystone Kid, which chronicles my life, including being sexually abused. I have heard from no less than 5 individuals in the last week who have commented on how much that book helped them because of its honesty. I have shared my story in print, on television, on screen and in a book as well as in person across the globe. I have said many times, “How is a child who grew up in an abusive situation, never being taught an appropriate concept of sex supposed to have any understanding of sex, or for that matter love.” That my friends, is the exact same concept that is presented in this movie. Grey, in a yet to be determined fullness of understanding, has gone through a period of what I would consider abuse from at least the age of 15 maybe longer. His first sexual encounters seem to be atrocious and the character has literally no understanding of sex in a loving or caring way. Now for the Christians who may be offended. I have read all of the Bible, including the Song of Solomon which includes scenes of as much graphic nature as in the film. The difference is, it can be determined that one is in a loving way, the other not; of course the Bible also includes stories of rape, incest and more. The discussion of sex amongst Christians should not be Taboo.
Now for my mini sermon, I really wish that adults, people of faith, would not be so ashamed to address human sexuality, and in the case of this film, as I have discovered in my own life, the issues and consequences that come about from being abused or children who have been abused and not developed an appropriate attitude or understanding of sex. Here is a reality, whether we like it or not, accept it or not, we live in a society where the abused have had the sins of others swept under a rug and never addressed. It is sad especially when people of faith have to go through situations of this nature, no wonder so many, when they are seeking healing, even from sexual sin and misunderstanding are condemned for the sins of others. Here is a shocking truth, Christians could use a film like Fifty Shades of Grey to start a discussion that would provide healing for multitudes of people who seem to have gone through what the character Christian Grey has gone through. Again let me make it clear, THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO WATCH THE MOVIE, OR SHOULD WATCH THE MOVIE!
Now does any of this mean that I am saying see the movie? ABSOLOUTELY NOT! Just as I stated earlier, this film is too mature for many, can be a stumbling block or for many a movie they can not to handle. It is an adult movie but an adult movie that for me, as a former sexual abuse victim, does not glorify sex, premarital sex or sex at all. While sex is a backdrop, it is a backdrop to what appears to be a misunderstood, search for love and misunderstanding of love due to abuse in his own life of Christian Grey. It is also a search for love for the lead female character, which can bring about appropriate discussion of how one discovers love, how far do they go, and when does one or should one give in to sexual activity.
Fifty Shades of Grey is not a great movie. It is not a feel good, lets get romantic movie either, instead, it is a movie that could inspire discussion and hopefully motivate people who have a relationship with God, who have experienced real love to open up discussions with those who are drawn to the sexual content of this movie, which there will be. For Christians, the appropriate discussions can be had even if you choose to not see the movie. Personally, I can’t recommend that many if any do see the movie.
In closing, I believe sex is a beautiful gift of God when practiced with the intent of which God created it, between two individuals who have made a life long commitment to each other. Does that change the reality that many have engaged in sex in a way outside of God’s intent? Of course not, but if discussion is not made, real honest discussion then we will never see things change and the message of a gift of God, when used appropriately and practiced appropriately can never be given or shared with those who need it.