It took me forever to slog through the trilogy that is the Fifty Shades series. I’d heard from so many acquaintances and friends how awful it was but I wanted to read it first hand because I didn’t want to dismiss it without having first read it; and because a film is currently in the works to bring this literary fireplace kindling to the big screen, I considered it “research.” I would have been all too happy to toss these books onto a fire had I not borrowed them from a friend (I refused to pay to read it).
As I’m sure most of you reading know by now, the novel came to being as Twilight fanfiction. The book tells the story of Anastasia Steele who interviews a ridiculously unbelievable highly successful mogul named Christian Grey who at 27 has more money than our current deficit. His idea of “romance” is of the flogger and riding crop variety. Despite an ocean of negative reviews for its ludicrous and poorly written plot, people ate up this novel which caused it to sell 60 million copies and eventually culminate the film adaptation set to be released in theaters in early 2015.
There is a tiny part of me that thought that perhaps a movie version of this book could be made better than the novel themselves and could be our generation’s “9 1/2 Weeks.” It’s a crapshoot as to whether or not this will prove to be the case. It all leans on the casting, the chemistry of the actors, and how well they make a silk purse of the sow’s ear that this trilogy represents.
Charlie Hunnam, of Sons of Anarchy and Pacific Rim fame, was originally slated to play the role of Christian Grey and admittedly I thought his casting for this character was spot-on, considering the background of the book’s character and the rough nature of the content. It wouldn’t be a far stretch of the imagination to see him as the troubled adopted son of Grace and Carrick Grey after playing a the troubled son of Gemma Teller-Morrow and step-son of Clay Morrow on Sons of Anarchy. He stepped down from the role citing “scheduling conflicts” with Sons of Anarchy, though it’s rumored the real reason was because there was pressure from internet rumblings regarding his being cast as Christian Grey. His role has now been filled by relative unknown Jamie Dornan, opposite Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele. The only saving grace in the film that I can see is the award-winning Marcia Gay Harden’s casting as Christian Grey’s mother.
Film adaptations are a tricky business. In most cases, you’re already starting with a successful and well-written novel. Then you have to contend with the screen writer and director’s vision of how it should look on film. If it’s done well, regardless of the differences between the written and screen versions, you end up with an equally successful and award-worthy film. What happens next with the adaptation, fans of the book will be waiting with bated breath to see, is anybody’s guess. I will most likely view it with morbid curiosity and a cynical eye.
I, personally, imagine the film ending up like Anne (Rampling) Rice’s Exit to Eden, as a farcical comedy and subsequent flop because of all the ridiculous plot devices throughout the book (My eyes were made sore from all the eye-rolling after the repetitive mention of the main character’s “inner goddess”), no to mention trying to rope into submission (ahem) the characters’ mercurial moods. I hope to goodness that I’m proven wrong and that the film turns out to be entertaining and as titillating as the book had the potential to be.
But I won’t hold my breath.