The “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie is terrible.
But the movie does have one redeeming quality: the sex.
The movie is slightly more complicated than the book (which is terrible), I think, because it makes some attempt to respond to the book’s major critique — that the relationship between Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele is not actually consensual.
The movie addresses this without overcoming it. The sex in the movie seems pretty clearly consensual, and, with the exception of the last scene, appears to be enjoyable.
The problem, of course, is that the sex scenes are completely at odds with the actual plot of the movie, which depicts the beginnings of an abusive and coercive relationship. The sex scenes are important, though, and not just because they’re softcore porn being shown on giant screens all over America. They’re strangely progressive.
(I don’t mean the bondage, that’s awful. Rope and cable ties bought at a hardware store are torture devices, not restraints.)
Within the realm of mainstream Hollywood film this movie is something of a breakthrough.
There’s oral sex, performed by a man on a woman. There’s even a hint that Anastasia may have had an orgasm that was asynchronous and unrelated to her partner’s.
Despite everything else in the film suggesting the opposite, the sex scenes are closer to actual sex between two people who like each other than almost anything I’ve ever seen in a theatre.
They’re not even really that good, but they are better than the male-centric sexual cliché that Hollywood usually churns out.
It’s really depressing that it takes a story about a man who coerces a college student into being his sex slave to make a mainstream Hollywood movie that includes a woman enjoying sex.
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