Hello, ladies 😉
DO NOT READ THIS POST IF YOU DON’T WANT THE FULL SKINNY ON MY FEELINGS REGARDING THE FIRST FSOG MOVIE!
Phew! it’s been hard not to chat to you. I’m so damn curious to see how you experienced the movie! Without further ado, let me dive right in after a little word on kindness:
I’ve always been very proud of the way you ladies conduct yourself here on the blog, even when it comes to differing views. I know that you’ll respect what I can only imagine will be vastly differing opinions, and keep the banter friendly. We can agree to disagree, but be warned: if you are here to pick an argument with an otherwise peace-loving group of serious FSOG fans, I will un-approve your comments so quickly your keyboard will spin. So, play nice, please!
Before I start, let me say this: we’ve fallen so hard for this story, we’ve loved it for so long, so faithfully, but few of us can say exactly why. I have my own theories and I know you do too, but the truth is, the X-factor that makes this our all-time favorite book in the whole wide world is indefinable. And if that’s the case, how hard must it have been for a director to capture this elusive, ethereal unknown on the silver screen?
Going in, in an effort to manage my expectations, I had to remind myself of a few things:
- At 530 pages, there was never going to be any way to incorporate the whole of book one into a two hour movie.
- The actors chosen for Ana and Christian didn’t fit my personal vision of them, but I told myself I’d be happy as long as they did justice to their roles.
- I was not going to get hung-up on small details that are of little consequence to HOW the story plays out.
- I promised myself I would try not to be a hyper-critical über fan, censoriously picking through the movie scenes for missing or changed bits, saying long-learned lines from the book in my head that would never appear on the screen. Sadly, I have to admit that the first time I saw it I failed miserably.
So, it went like this… On Wednesday night I went to see the official Universal première and then, on Thursday morning, I went to see it again at a regular cinema. Though it wasn’t planned this way, I’m very glad I got to see it twice in quick succession as I had a TOTALLY different experience the second time around. It’s worth mentioning that, during the première screening, I spotted three women leaving the theater NOT TO RETURN. I would have loved to have heard their feedback. Also, I’m super glad that I reread the books before watching the movie. It was useful having the images and flow of the scenes fresh in my mind.
Ending first: One of the things that’s stood out from the comments I’ve gotten so far is that folks are shocked at the ending. Not the fact that he uses the belt on her, but the fact that it ends exactly where book one ends. I’m not sure what people expected but yes, three books, three movies, all due on Valentine’s Day over the next two years. (Thank you, Universal Studios Australia, for that confirmation.) Susan made a very good point regarding this to me during the week. She said though there are three actual books, it is really one book broken into three, and most of us reached for the next the moment we finished the first, so that might have influenced people’s expectations of where this movie would end.
Having said that, even knowing the ending was coming, it was still hard to take. And as is the case with any good FSOG fan, I wanted more. The two hours flew by, felt like a mere blink before we were vacating our seats and shuffling out of the cinema. I think knowing that there is still so much of the story to tell left me wanting.
As far as the content of the ending is concerned, I thought it lacked compunction on Christian’s part, especially considering how in-your-face it was to see him use the belt on her like that. (I’m not even going entertain the whole abuse claim thing. It may have been harsh, but it was consensual.) I also missed the full conversation where she’s crying and coming to terms with the heartbreaking knowledge that they are incompatible and him, in turn, letting her go despite it hurting him. To me, it lacked the depth of what was going on between them.
The start of the movie, I feel, was pretty accurate and though there were a lot of funny ad lib pieces, especially from Ana, I did not feel that it took away from the script. I laughed a whole lot more than I expected to, so that was a pleasant surprise. I felt that they kept pretty close to the vein of the story and the actual dialogue in the movie. I was most apprehensive about Dakota’s part, but she definitely changed my mind. Personally I think she played innocent and unaware Ana pitch perfect. She had an understated quality about her that I loved, and she felt very natural in the role. I can’t help wondering if my happy surprise with her had something to do with my low expectations. Jamie, on the other hand, did not do it for me. Though he went through all the right motions, I failed to see that profound depth to him as Christian — that overbearing, jealous nature, the self-loathing, the searing intensity that captured my heart so thoroughly in the books. Even at this early stage of the story in the book I could see his internal struggle: the always-in-control-Dom vs. the broken man falling in love for the first time, the out-of-control feeling wreaking havoc with his carefully laid-out life. To me, this did not translate onto the silver screen.
The first scene that was a dramatic departure from the book was the forest scene. In the book he drives her home and they stop at a restaurant to have lunch, where they have an eye-opening conversation. They still have the talk, but during a walk in the forest. As the venue isn’t a plot device, one has to wonder why change the setting at all?
The second one was the amalgamation of the dinner in the private dining room at the Heathman and the serious contract thrash-out at her apartment after graduation. In the movie, these two scenes are blended into one, and it takes place at his office in the guise of a business meeting. I cannot say that the change bothered me, and the same things were achieved. I guess, again, the need to cut time played a big role in how this was done.
Overall I felt that that the necessity to cut time and condense everything into a two hour time slot let the movie down. Important scenes were left out leaving only “half scenes” that would make little sense to someone who’s not read the book, or left gaping holes into what is vital insight into the character’s thoughts. The scenes that come to mind are the “after-care” following the first time he spanked her; the reasoning behind his hurried desperate in Georgia after getting the phone call about Leila, the heated need for her when she returns from Savannah; the panty scenes, where he asks her whether she has everything she needs; her getting the job at SIP; her reactions to the clothes and the first class plane ride; and his lavish spending on her in general. At times it made the movie feel disjointed and rushed. It was as though the director had a list of scenes to tick off rather than let the scenes flow into each other naturally.
The sex scenes, I think, were tastefully done, but it was in this regard that I felt my double viewing came into play the most. The first time, closer to the end of the movie, I felt as though Sam lost her tasteful directive and it felt almost blatant; but seeing it the second time, I did not feel that at all. I cannot explain my change of heart, but there you go. There’s no accounting for one’s emotions.
Without “Christianisms” this movie would be sorely lacking, and I’m pleased to say that most of them appear. I also loved the way they brought in the email and text banter between the two of them. It is such an integral part of their communication, and I was very curious to see how they would incorporate that.
As my score is for the movie version of the books that felled me, stole my heart, and ran away with me, I’ve had no choice but to measure the production against an almost unattainable standard. I may have been far more generous had that not been the case. I give it a very critical six and a half out of ten. I guess in my hearts of hearts I knew that this story would always remain most alive in my soul.
Please feel free to share your views; the highs and the lows, the pleasant surprises, and the downright disappointing….
I wanted to post a pic of the screening and right now, I can’t because I’ve not gotten the pics yet, but I did take one from my seat of the screen. It’s not much it’s something!
This week I read:
MILF by Erin Noelle is proof that hot sex scenes alone does not a good book make! LOL! A poolside read at best. Entertaining but empty.
Currently I’m reading:
Tight by Alessandra Torre, as usual, is blowing me away. This woman can write! But I am a tad apprehensive about where this book is going. The content seems darker than her previous books, though she warned at the start that this book is a departure from her regular style.
On my shelf I have:
Floored by Melanie Harlow, book three in the Frenched series.
If you’re trolling for something new to read perhaps you’d find this link useful:
Click the button if you want to follow me and my reviews on Goodreads
Then, as it’s Valentines’ Day weekend, Sylvia Day has blessed us with an excerpt of One With You, book four in the Crossfire series. And no V-Day would be complete without the romance Disney is known for… Only this time, thanks to Cosmo, our favorite Disney characters channel FSOG…
Oh my! Sure puts a new spin on fairy tales, huh?
That’s it from me, girls. Let’s hear your views 😉
PS: Please forgive me if I don’t come back to your comment shortly. I sleep when most of you guys are awake 😉