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Saturday 28 February 2015

Show Us How Bad It Can Get

L is going to be on telly. She’s doing a Zumba class today and they’re filming it for a Nottingham ‘This Girl Can’ ad. They promise to blur them all out... must be girl thing.

First though the parkrun at Forest Fields where the dogs and I watch before dropping L off for her screen test. We head home to meet a chap who is putting us through a Green Deal assessment of our all-round energy efficiency.

This is just a big hoop to jump through to get a Government Grant for solid wall insulation. We’re not allowed to request it because they have to recommend it. So we’ve had to request that they come and recommend it...

In the evening we head out to the Barrel Drop for a couple of pints of Dutch courage, then we head to the Cornerhouse because oddly Broadway aren’t showing it.

So let’s recap in case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard about the book ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’, which my partner and I got through the audiobook of on a road trip to Scotland. Anastasia Steele is a mythical beast, the only remaining good looking 21 year old virgin in Seattle. Who, according to the book, has not only never had sex but never had neither a moment of self-pleasure nor a boyfriend either. Even though she must have had plenty of offers. So, one choosy chick.

When she stumbles into the office of Christian Grey CEO Grey Enterprises, whom she interviews for the university newspaper, she has this ‘holy cow’ moment and suddenly her inner goddess is doing the can-can or something or other. Grey is a damaged soul with sexual tastes that includes rope and cables ties from the US equivalent of B&Q. He likes to take pretty little students into his Red Room of Pain and gives them a good feathering, once they’ve signed the contract of course. So as soon as Anastasia Steele bites her lower lip, he decides she’s next for the full shackling.

The book has an interesting premise but, as has been well documented, it is poorly written and not terribly erotic but very very funny, unintentionally so I imagine. So bad it's good perhaps. Now of course the film is out. Normally I'd say don't ruin a book you really like by seeing the film of it because great books do not often make for great films.

Whereas... with something like Fifty Shades, you probably can’t go wrong... The good news is they have taken a chainsaw to most of EL James verbal diarrhoea. Anastasia’s inner goddess is back in its box and there’s no ‘holy hells, ‘double crap’ or even a solitary ‘oh my’. Although I’m quite sad about the loss of the ‘oh my’ actually. Ana (Dakota Johnson) is also much less of the irritating sap that she is in the book and is not reduced to a moist mess once, thankfully. Well, not that she tells us.

This Ana is no walkover and you’d probably want her in your own boardroom nibbling on her lip whilst renegotiating an important contract for you, such a good fist she makes of this one. Fist perhaps not being the most appropriate word to use as that was struck out of the contract negotiations along with the butt plugs.

Already I’m wondering why this wasn't this up for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars? Did the Academy not appreciate what a truly great salvage job they've done here?

Johnson, initially a bit wooden, really grows on me and not just because she’s cute and mostly naked. Though she is. I also warmed to Jamie Dornan (as Christian Grey) eventually. Both actors managed to capture the essence of the book’s main characters. 

Plot wise, the film is true to the book although it all does seem a tad rushed as they attempt to cram everything into a couple of hours. There is little time for suspense to build or for the characters to be flushed out. Whilst Ana lost her innocence pretty quickly for someone who’d hung valiantly onto through so many years of Higher Education.

There are, of course, plenty of sex scenes but they are no more explicit than in many other films and TV series (hello to Game of Thrones). However they do feature a hell of a lot more of Johnson than they do of Dornan. True Dornan is topless at lot of time but Johnson spends huge chunks of the film completely naked. Not that I particularly wanted to see more of Dornan but this is a bit weird for a film supposedly aimed at women.

As in the book I found Christian Grey quite unimaginative when forced to ad-lib outside of his red room where ‘vanilla’ becomes the predominate flavour of the day. Although I'm hoping at least that the film makers now have the confidence to ramp it up for book two.

It turns out that Fifty Shades is a far better film than it was a book and I quite liked it. It is certainly far from the worst film we’ve seen so far this year.

Afterwards we head to the Peacock for some slightly too old Old Peculiar and then the rather late curry that L has promised me at the Noor. It’s not a great curry which is usual for there but it was perhaps because I picked something different this time.

(Saturday 28th February)

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