I was undecided about whether to go and see Fifty Shades at the movies, but recently the decision was taken out of my hands. A good friend who hadn’t read the books but is rather appreciative of Jamie Dornan, told me that because I was a romance author, I was basically the only person she knew she’d be comfortable seeing it with.
So off we went and saw the movie. It’s been out a little while now and I’d read a lot of negative reviews ranging from it’s the worst movie ever to it glorifies abuse, it was corny, etc, etc. My expectations weren’t high.
The movie or the book?
By the end of the movie, something strange had happened. I didn’t hate it. As we discussed it on our way back to the car, to my shock I realized something: I preferred the movie to the book!
So the fact that I preferred the movie to the book is probably not a great reflection on my opinion of the books. I’ll admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of the books. I only read two of the three of them.
Here’s why I enjoyed the movie more:
1. I didn’t have to read about Anastasia biting her lip every second line.
I understand that characters have little idiosyncrasies that make those characters unique. In Fifty Shades, Ana’s habit of biting her lip is tantalising to Grey. I get that. It’s important to the development of their relationship. But every second page, for most of the book? I wanted to stab Ana in the eye after two books, I just couldn’t handle it anymore.
Writers, it’s a good lesson in not overdoing things. Establish it, mention it where it’s important, but sparingly. Please. You don’t want readers imagining torturing your characters because of certain habits. This is why we edit, people! Fortunately the movie didn’t overdo it. It was there. It was visual and obvious what was happening, but I didn’t want to kill Ana by the end of it.
2. Grey had more personality in the movie.
At first I couldn’t figure out what it was I liked about Grey in the movie over the books. It was immediate. That first scene in his office where Ana is interviewing him for the college paper, I liked Grey (Jamie Dornan). I could see the attraction. In the books it took me longer to warm to him. After some reflection, I understood it was because Dornan was able to inject more depth in to Grey in the movie. He had more warmth, and more of a range of emotion than I experienced when reading the books. Grey needs to be aloof and unreachable because he’s dealing with his past, but he’s still human and I think the movie conveyed this better.
3. The language.
Obviously there were quite a few sex scenes in the movie (still less than the book, I’m guessing). Depending on your bent, you might find the visual of the movie screen confronting. Personally, it was something of a relief because in the book, I just didn’t dig the language. I had long conversations with my next door neighbour about the constant references to Ana’s ‘sex.’ We didn’t enjoy the terminology. Sure they were ‘having sex,’ but why, oh why, could the writer not be more creative with her language? Maybe it’s because I’m used to Nora Roberts. Her characters have sex but it’s not erotica, it’s romance. When I write sex scenes, it’s not erotica, it’s romance. And that was probably why I preferred the movie. I didn’t have to read page after page about Ana’s ‘sex.’
Lessons learned from the romance of the big screen
Watching Fifty Shades was a lesson in hype. Sure, listen to the hype, but then go and make your own mind up. Don’t believe everything you hear. I appreciate everyone is different, but personally I didn’t find it confronting. It didn’t invade my world. I wasn’t scarred for life. It wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t great. It was just OK. Although, I will confess I’m now rather enamoured with Jamie Dornan . . .
And that hype, whether good or bad, can be a very, very good thing for your career!
Have you seen Fifty Shades at the movies? What did you think?