Lord of the Rings, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Shining, Fight Club, Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, and Fifty Shades of Grey? Does the 2015… erm… ‘romance’ book adaptation really belong in this list? Well, yes and no. Allow me to explain.
Let me start by clearing something up, I am in no way saying that Fifty Shades of Grey is a good film. I don’t think anybody’s going to argue that, with even Third Act’s review being too kind in my eyes. In fact, of all the people I’ve spoken to that have seen the film, not one of them has even said ‘it was pretty good’. But ‘bad’ films make loads of money all the time, and they clearly have an audience that does enjoy them. A lot of people hated Transformers: Age of Extinction, but it was the most profitable film of 2014, and I personally got a lot of enjoyment out of it. This film clearly has fans, but the general consensus is that it’s a steamy (HA!) pile of dung.
So how can I possibly be saying that its a great adaptation? Alright, there may be some slight spoilers below, but I’m assuming that anybody reading this has already seen the film, or has no plans to do so, but read on at your own peril. Throughout the film, and when I was thinking about it afterwards, my main thought was that all of the films many, MANY problems were not with the film makers, but with the source material. The film is (mostly) well acted, the direction is decent, with a lot of the sex scenes actually being much closer to sensual than pornographic, and the soundtrack and original music both work well.
What about this films doesn’t work? The characters are stupid. They’re unrealistic, often act out of character (they’re characters are also dumb), and some of the dialogue is cringe worthy and laughable. ‘I’m fifty shades of f***ed up’ and ‘the woman that gave birth to me was a crack addict’ were two of my favourite moments. These are the kind of characters and back stories that a child would invent. You might as well have ended the film with ‘phew, it was all a dream’.
The story is also ridiculous. The development is unrealistic and none of what happened would have happened in real life. One of the biggest problems I had is that Christian Grey is Creepy! So so creepy! I get that he’s a dream boat, but he basically stalks and then kidnaps a woman, but it’s ok, because he’s rich. What kind of man forces a woman he barely knows into sexual activities she doesn’t want to do? A rapist. Is rape ok if you buy her a mac and a car afterwards? Apparently so.
The reason Fifty Shades of Grey is such a good book to film adaptation is that they took what is probably one of the worst books ever written, and turned it into a film that’s just below average. Lord of the Rings is an incredible set of films, but they’re adapted from some of the most well-loved books ever written. A Clockwork Orange is by all accounts a modern classic, both the film and the book. The best book adaptations come from the best books, so making something that’s just bad from a book that is embarrassingly poor is a huge achievement, and that’s what makes Fifty Shades of Grey a great book to film adaptation.
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