Will Fifty Shades’ big-screen kink be a badge of hon­our or a scar­let letter?

ELLE (Canada) - - Radar -

Cu­ri­ous?” asks the poster for Fifty Shades of Grey. The pro­duc­ers of the big-screen adap­ta­tion of E. L. James’ phe­nom­e­nally suc­cess­ful erotic ro­mance novel are bet­ting that the an­swer is yes. While re­leas­ing an ex­pen­sive movie with ex­plicit con­tent sounds risky (the film re­port­edly cost $40 mil­lion to make and then briefly flirted with the dreaded NC-17 rat­ing), it’s pos­si­bly less dan­ger­ous than alien­at­ing the mil­lions of read­ers an­tic­i­pat­ing a faith­fully full-frontal adap­ta­tion, star­ring Ir­ish ac­tor Jamie Dor­nan as the tit­u­lar/ BDSM vir­tu­oso Chris­tian Grey.

“The main­stream is hav­ing a kinky cul­tural mo­ment,” says Cyn­thia Loyst, a co-host of CTV’s The So­cial and a sex and re­la­tion­ship guru. “Not since Sa­man­tha started talk­ing about her love for ‘the Rab­bit’ on Sex and the City have we seen such a direct cor­re­la­tion be­tween the con­ver­sa­tions that are hap­pen­ing around the wa­ter cooler and those that are hap­pen­ing in the bed­room.” The dif­fer­ence, of course, is that Sex and the City fans were able to en­joy the naughty ban­ter in the pri­vacy of their own homes. Whether view­ers will feel as com­fort­able trekking out to the the­atre to en­joy Fifty Shades with a room full of strangers is another mat­ter.

For all the moan­ing about the overly per­mis­sive na­ture of pop­u­lar cul­ture, sex is mostly ab­sent from Amer­i­can mul­ti­plex screens; the over­grown boys in Judd Apa­tow movies joke about get­ting laid more than they ac­tu­ally do, and su­per­hero movies are largely chaste (de­spite the bulging cos­tumes). The pos­si­bil­ity of a movie ro­mance that’s spicier than vanilla Ni­cholas Sparks adap­ta­tions is en­tic­ing. It’s pos­si­ble that Fifty Shades of Grey could be­come the sort of con­ver­sa­tion-piece film that Fa­tal At­trac­tion was nearly 30 years ago, right down to the po­ten­tial ar­gu­ment over its gen­der pol­i­tics (i.e., a woman be­com­ing empowered through a sub­mis­sive re­la­tion­ship). But Fa­tal At­trac­tion was, at the end of the day, a thriller, while Fifty Shades may be some­thing un­prece­dented. “What makes Fifty Shades unique is that it’s the first big-bud­get film that is meant to turn its au­di­ence on,” says Loyst. “Sure, there’s a sto­ry­line, but make no mis­take about it: Peo­ple are go­ing to see it to get horny.”

We’ll find out on Valen­tine’s Day if Hol­ly­wood’s cu­rios­ity is re­warded.

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