Fifty Shades of Grey, the cinematic adaptation of the 2011 erotic romance novel by British author E.L. James, is now out on DVD for your sexy viewing pleasure.

Fifty Shades of Grey tells the “romantic” sexcapade between college student Anastasia “Ana” Steele and billionaire boy club member Christian Grey.

The film was directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy), and stars Dakota Johnson (The Five Year Engagement, The Social Network) as Anastasia Steele and Jamie Dornan (BBC’s The Fall) as Christian Grey.

Now, while Fifty Shades has had it’s fair share of critics – from those who scream that the theme centers around domestic abuse to those who believe that Dornan was a poor choice to play the menacingly sexy Grey – one thing must be made clear: E.L. James’s Fifty Shades is orbiting a completely different planet than that of Sam Taylor-Johnson’s.

While Johnson may be known more for her marriage to young breakout star Aaron Taylor Johnson (The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Kick-Ass) and less for the films she’s actually directed, Fifty Shades showcases her directorial talent beautifully, and it’s a shame she won’t be on to direct the next two movies in the franchise. It might even be safe to say that Johnson saved this film.

As an avid reader and book collector, I do in fact own a copy of the book. But I never got around to reading it because I don’t typically reach for romance novels and with all the hoopla over the book and film it seemed too far gone to catch up. But despite my original thoughts of the series, I can honestly say I enjoyed the film.

Dornan did a decent job portraying a rich, broken sex addict control freak regardless of what readers screamed about his appearance not matching the written character’s described appearance. Even though there were points in the film where I got a To Catch A Predator vibe from Grey, Dornan’s demeanor was never overdone or rigid. Dornan played the role that was written for him and throughout the film it wasn’t Grey that I took issue with. He was honest about his intentions with Ana, although I still don’t understand the appeal. You’d think there’d be plenty of awkward girls with poorly cut bangs roaming around Seattle. Or maybe they don’t always just “fall” into your office.

As for Anastasia, not having read the books, I found her extremely overbearing and schemy. Her not signing the contract, but verbally agreeing to his terms was in hopes of luring him into loving her and wanting her as more than a Friday to Sunday submissive. While Grey was clear about what he wanted, Ana was unable to give him up completely, so she “played” into his need for dominance and closeness, but ended up giving him a “me-or-your-toys” vibe. She didn’t seem to realize that his lifestyle wasn’t just a hobby but indeed a lifestyle and something he couldn’t simply change about himself. Anastasia’s character frustrated me, but I think it also added a different element to the film. We saw this need for dominance from Grey, but we also saw a need for love from Anasatia. It was also interesting to see a more natural and normal progression of intimacy with Grey’s brother, Elliot (Luke Grimes), and Ana’s roommate, Kate (Eloise Mumford) parallel to that of Christian and Ana’s.

If we forgive it’s lackluster script, we might find that Fifty Shades opens up a portal we rarely get to see on the big screen. When it comes to sex in big movies it’s mostly depicted as something between awkward teenagers in the shadow of the night, against someone’s will, or in front of a glowing computer screen in the living room so your girlfriend doesn’t hear (talking to you Joseph Gordon-Levitt). What Fifty Shades tells us is that while women and men do want love and relationships, a big part of what garners trust and deep emotional connection in those relationships is in fact sexual intercourse. While BDSM isn’t something that every couple is involved in, it does exist. It may be taboo, and highly secretive, but BDSM is practiced by everyday people who may still be able to go and have loving and healthy relationships despite what they choose to do in the comfort of their bedrooms.

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