Fifty Shades of….. actually this isn’t too bad?

Fifty Shades of….. actually this isn’t too bad?

Fifty Shades Darker is a viciously misogynistic and sadistic empty film that degrades women. Well… that’s what I thought I was going to say before I watched the film. Being proven wrong is sometimes a very pleasant surprise. The second instalment of the BDSM phenomenon has once again thrown the world into a kinky frenzy. Fifty Shades Darker does something that the first instalment of the trilogy did not. Firstly, it actually captured my attention this time –  but secondly I felt empowered. Now, here’s the biggest shocker of all, it was written and directed by men. Please excuse my negative assumptions, but when it comes to Hollywood you can’t assume much less. Considering the subject matter, Fifty Shades Darker manages to address the kinky world of Christian Grey rather well. Anastasia openly states her sexual desires, and Christian adheres, in the first film Christian dictates what he wants and there’s little negotiation in it. It’s rather refreshing to see a male director do something that even director Sam Taylor-Johnson couldn’t do in the first film: balance the genders. When I say balance the genders, what I specifically mean is that Christian and Anastasia stand on a pretty level playing field.

‘It’s rather refreshing to see a male director do something that even director Sam Taylor-Johnson couldn’t do in the first film: balance the genders’

I’ve read some pretty harsh reviews on this film, and I think they’re uncalled for. Anastasia, as much of a wet blanket as she is (there is no denying), fights her own battles and is a stronger willed character than she was in the first film. There’s no denying that she’s objectified on camera, but do you know what? So is Christian! Both of their bodies are the centre of attention in several scenes, but boy does it feel good to see this. It’s been a long time coming.  In the heated sex scenes, director James Foley focuses on both Christian and Anastasia and doesn’t put her in the forefront of it all. We are given a few scenes in which Christian’s ripped body is on show, and you’d never believe it but Ana is fully clothed or covered – hats off to James Foley here. Another big hats off must go to James Foley and screenwriter, Niall Leonard, for the scene that had me jumping for joy. Ana fights off her boss who attempts to assault her, I was waiting for Christian to run in like Prince Charming to her rescue, but she owned it. Ana utilises her own resources and doesn’t rely on Christian, she doesn’t want his money or his help and gave me a little hope that maybe things in Hollywood might change. He’s a billionaire businessman with more vacation homes than sense; this makes him pretty irresistible. But, she progresses in her career, turns down his money and regularly puts him in his place.

‘There’s no denying that she’s objectified on camera, but do you know what? So is Christian!’

When I left the cinema, I started to think about what this progressive mainstream Hollywood film might do for the representation of women in film. James Foley puts Christian’s behaviour at fault and presented a strong female lead who doesn’t play by a man’s rules. Yes, I have to admit that it isn’t a ground breaking feminist film thanks to Christian’s controlling nature….. but it’s a good starting point.

Catherine Woodward

(Image courtesy of Doane Gregory/Rex/Shutterstock)

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