50 Shades? I have seen racier episodes of Pingu
IATTENDED the premiere of Fifty Shades Darker on Thursday night. The star, Dakota Johnson, who plays submissive Ana Steele, said before she went into the Odeon: ‘It’s a sexier film.’ Well, that wouldn’t be hard. The first film was as vanilla as one of Mary Berry’s Victoria sponges. The second one’s billboard promises ‘no more rules’. That may explain why middleaged women waggling copies of E.L. James’s books were 15 deep in a sleety Leicester Square.
Never underestimate the libido of the post-menopausal woman. Problem is, that’s exactly what the filmmakers have done.
In the movie, I was treated to Dakota’s nipples on seven occasions, but I didn’t spot Jamie’s appendage once. My companion said it was there, in silhouette, fleetingly, but I must have been doing my online Sainsbury’s order at the time: the film is very, very long (no sniggering, please) and very boring. There was no sex until about an hour in, a groping scene in an elevator that was so badly lit, I thought all the childhood warnings were true: I’d gone blind.
While Dakota reminds me more and more of Julie Burchill, Jamie’s heart just wasn’t in it. Outside the theatre, sporting a full beard as if to distance himself from the role of Christian Grey, he kept telling the women who fantasise about him that he and his wife live in the countryside with their two children.
Don’t tell us that! Your fans are trying to shore themselves up against husbands who’ve reached 60 without knowing the location of the G-spot or the stopcock (men are now both impotent and useless) and having nothing to look forward to but poverty and dementia. We sat through 18 episodes of you in The Fall – twice – just to make it, alive and vaguely sane, to this second cinematic instalment. At least keep up the pretence of ruthless desirability for five minutes.
I felt patronised by the film, treated as though I’m a little girl. The film is a parody from a male screenwriter and male director of what they think female sexuality should be rather than what it is: dirty, and demanding.
PLUS I felt I’d been transported back to the 1970s: the matriarchs (what has happened to Kim Basinger, who plays the Mrs Robinson character? She seems to have bought more teeth) are so cartoonish they are like something out of Dallas, the acting as wooden as… well, we’ll never find out, will we?
I’m sure this film will still get hammered by feminists, keen to see Anastasia escape her shackles and grow some balls of her own. But I’m shredding it for precisely the opposite reason: there is ABSOLUTELY NO SEX in the film: no chemistry, no biology. Why it’s certificate 18, I’ve no idea; I’ve been more aroused by Pingu. The books sold in their millions because E.L. James recognises women are intelligent enough to separate fantasy from reality. We have needs not satisfied by Waitrose, Poldark, Deliciously Ella and all the other ‘good’ things we’re supposed to fill our time with.
Ana enjoys the rough sex in the books, but in the film all she does is coo over an engagement ring, like a character in a Woman’s Realm serial.
We might make men take paternity leave and learn which recycling bin is which, but in our heads we want them to flip us, like a pancake. Because men have been reduced to mere guests in our homes, emasculated lumps to be tolerated, bossed around in a way our mums never dreamed of bossing our dads around, we need something like Fifty Shades to fill the yawning gap.
But like any woman with an interest in sex, we’re being punished for it. The heroine of the aforementioned The Fall got her comeuppance for daring to have a voracious sexual appetite in her late 40s by ending the series with only a glass of red for company. In Apple Tree Yard, the 52-year-old Emily Watson was raped, then threatened with jail for daring to have an affair.
And the core fans of Fifty Shades, older women like me who are sex starved in real life, endlessly disappointed by real men, have been thoroughly shafted by a movie that’s meant to be on our side. If I’d paid to see this travesty, I’d be demanding my money back.