Adapting a best-selling book into a feature film is hard. You’ve got to consider the die-hard fans while honouring the classic scenes. Casting has to be just right. And at some point, you need to decide which lines to unceremoniously chop, which ones to add, and how to balance it all out so that even those who haven’t read the novel will be left … satisfied.
Which brings us to Fifty Shades of Grey.
Sure, the E.L. James books revolutionized the game in terms of women openly reading about sex scenes. Chat with any single one of your sisters/friends/cousins/bus companions, and the consensus seems to be the same: at some point in the book, you kinda sorta felt all hot and bothered down there.
So how do you go about translating all of those .. ahem, feelings, into a movie that people are going to see with those same aforementioned sisters/friends/cousins/bus companions? By not mucking up some of the key moments, of course. Such as:
The Red Room of Pain
This should go without saying. The infamous room is where much of the book’s excitement happens, and it speaks to the fantasy some women have of being dominated. Men might be the visual ones, but unless we see plenty of whips, handcuffs and other unidentifiable objects, we just won’t buy it.
Sure, the book tends to whip by this key ingredient (pun intended). But in the film, we don’t have the luxury of reading what Ana (Dakota Johnson) is thinking or feeling. Therefore we need to build some rapport between the leads. Especially given all of the negative press surrounding these two leading up to the premiere.
Ugly Cry Face
We all know Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) has a wealth of psychological issues. And that he breaks down in the books. If we’re going for that in the film, let’s just pray that Dornan doesn’t break out the Ugly Cry Face. Because ladies let’s be honest: a single tear a la Johnny Depp in Cry Baby is hot. A hot mess all over your face, however, is not. Just ask Claire Danes.
Using the right … tools
One of our favourite excerpts from the book goes something like this:
“Suddenly, he sits up and tugs my panties off and throws them on the floor. Pulling off his boxer briefs, his erection springs free. Holy cow! … He kneels up and pulls a condom onto his considerable length. Oh no … Will it? How?”
We already know that Dornan signed a contract that stipulated no full frontal (don’t get us started). But here’s hoping that with a little imagination, we can pretend that this scene really springs to life.
Killing the “Inner Goddess”
You know what we’re talking about. There’s cheese, and then there’s mouldy, stank cheese. Having Ana refer to her sexual drive as her screaming, “inner goddess” who does “the merengue with some salsa moves” doesn’t fly in the books, and we don’t want to hear about it in the movie, either. Let’s leave the goddess talk to the green salad dressings of the world, shall we?
Walking the Line
There’s a big difference between hot-and-steamy role-playing in the bedroom and straight up abuse. This movie is going to have to walk it. So while we want to see some pleasurable flogging and spanking (we all know what we’re signing up for here), it can’t be SO graphic that we’re too uncomfortable to watch. That’s never sexy.
But Also Actually Going For It
What’s the point of seeing a sex movie if there isn’t a lot of SEX? While we definitely want to see these two fall for each other, we also want to get the sense that if they can’t have at each other that they’re going to self-implode or something. And that’s the whole fantasy right there, now isn’t it? Needing someone so badly that you can’t breath?
Media reports aside, Johnson and Dornan’s actual chemistry will be judged by audiences everywhere. And they’d better have it, because whether the like it or not, that’s what will ultimately have people coming back for seconds (and thirds). And running home to their significant other post-show. If these books have taught us anything, it’s that sometimes you’ve just gotta unwind.
Fifty Shades of Grey hits theatres on Valentine’s Day.