For the millions of people who nervously read E.L. James’s smash erotic thriller 50 Shades of Grey, Christmas in July came this morning, with Santa rewarding those who’ve been naughty with the first trailer of the book’s big-screen adaptation. And for the rest of us who wondered what exactly these legions of fly-by-night bookworms were picturing as they nervously read the BDSM-lite novel on their Kindles while riding the subway to work in the morning, petrified that someone would catch on to what they were reading, the answer is finally here.
What we have, it seems, is the story of a young, mousy girl named Anastasia Steele—you can tell she’s mousy because she wears cardigans and can’t look handsome men in the eye without giggling—who, in the course of interviewing a powerful man named Christian Grey—you can tell he’s powerful because he doesn’t blink when he talks to you and he has an expensive-looking haircut—unleashes her inner sexual goddess. (If I had a dollar for every time my inner sexual goddess was unleashed while I conducted interviews…)
To the uninitiated, me among them, this trailer is alarming. Jamie Dornan, the abs with a head cast as Christian Grey, locks eyes with Dakota Johnson, making mom Melanie Griffith and dad Don Johnson proud as Anastasia Steele, and deadpans, “I exercise control in everything, Ms. Steele.” As elevators slowly close in front of a terrified-looking Anastasia and Christian stalks towards her, you can’t help but gasp: “Oh my god is he going to KILL HER!?”
Soon it becomes clear that Melanie Griffith’s daughter, in fact, is not about to be violently murdered, but violently kissed. And she’s going to be violently kissed a lot. In elevators. In offices. In bedrooms. And, according to the trailer’s big, dramatic reveal, in BDSM sex dungeons. The usual.
Give credit where credit is due, though. When Christian says, “I don’t do romance. My tastes are very singular. You wouldn’t understand,” and the music stops and Anastasia—eyes wide like an innocent, scared, horny Bambi—says, “Enlighten me, then,” I actually hooted. Like woooo! Like, damn gurl. You know what I mean?
From what can be gleaned from the rest of the trailer, the rest of the film will feature zoomed-in shots of men’s hands, Jamie Dornan pacing around in various locations without a shirt on, people posing in front of floor-to-ceiling windows, and lots of clever camera trickery to make Anastasia and Christian’s whips-and-chains sexcapades look sexy and fun and not painful and terrifying. Also Beyoncé will sing the slowest version of “Crazy in Love” that has ever been sung.
There’s a question lingering over this 50 Shades film adaptation like a riding crop suspended in the air over Anastasia’s bare bum, and the film industry—much like the little-bit-nervous, little-bit-thrilled Anastasia—is anxious to find out the answer when the crop is whipped down and the film is released on Valentine’s Day 2015. Will the scores of women who devoured the bodice-ripper of a novel in secret actually turn up to cineplexes next year and muster the courage to say to the acne-riddled teenager working the cash register, “I’d like to purchase a ticket to see 50 Shades of Grey, please”?
Well, as has been written time and time again, women do turn out for movies that are aimed at women. They are the demographic at the box office that does actually exist. A best prediction, though, will be that it won’t be as much of an event that some might be predicting, a la the first Sex and the City film. It could, however, do the kind of business that Magic Mike did. If people will turn out to see Channing Tatum in a thong in the middle of the summer, who’s to say that they won’t make a manipulative sexual masochist their Valentine’s Day date, too.
We’ve all gone to the movies to see far more ridiculous things, haven’t we?