When Anastasia Steele, a literature student, goes to interview the wealthy Christian Grey as a favor to her roommate Kate Kavanagh, she encounters a beautiful, brilliant and intimidating man. The innocent and naive Ana starts to realize she wants him. Despite his enigmatic reserve and advice, she finds herself desperate to get close to him. Not able to resist Ana's beauty and independent spirit, Christian Grey admits he wants her too, but on his own terms. Ana hesitates as she discovers the singular tastes of Christian Grey - despite the embellishments of success, his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, and his loving family, Grey is consumed by the need to control everything.
This story is not one about love or BDSM, it is a story about abuse and what bothers me the most about the whole thing is that it has just enough utterances of legitimate BDSM safe practices to be construed as reality... which makes it incredibly dangerous and unethical. The author does an absolute terrible job at depicting a healthy kink relationship. While I understand that the original work may not have been aimed at developing a story of the perfect BDSM relationship, the fact that the story has gained such popularity while reinforcing rape culture and the idea that only those who are interested in BDSM have obvious mental health problems saddens and disturbs me. The BDSM community has fought long and hard to dispell the negative and false stigmas and this movie undermines our efforts while making a mockery of the lifestyle as a spectical for the masses.
The movie opens with the inexperienced and doe eyed character of Anatasia Steele going to meet Christian Grey in place of her roommate for an interview for her school paper. Despite the fact that she did not bother to prepare by even reading over the questions her roommate had prepared, his predatory demeanor only makes the meeting worse and establishes him as someone who revels in making others uncomfortable. After this one meeting, even though she is obviously intimated by him, he continues to pursue her. She even tells him to his face that she finds him intimidating and he uses this to his advantage to get what he wants. He consistently refuses to acknowledge her wishes from her requests to stop sending her gifts to even things as simple as calling her by her preferred name. He does not give her any choices over when he sees her, when she can leave, or even when or if she chooses to give consent. He stalks her to a bar after meeting her twice and takes her out of the bar against her will while she is drunk. Instead of taking her home, where he obviously knows where it is since he's had gifts courriered to her door, he takes her back to his hotel where he undresses her while she's unconconscious and unable to give consent. His unethical conduct continues throughout the film from forcing her to sign a non disclosure agreement so that she cannot speak to anyone about their relationship, to continuting to stalk her, to breaking into her apartment and forcing her into sex when she blows him off.
The movie does mention consent a fair bit but Mr Grey completely ignores it at his convenienance. He tries to force her decision to give consent, even though she doesn't have a full understanding of what she is giving consent to, and when she fails to do so he chooses to proceed anyways. When he learns that she is a virgin, his predatory interest spikes and breaks his word and own rules as if they were nothing and pushes to sleep with her. He uses her ignorance against her and is constantly manipulating her. Mr Grey also jumps to offering her a full time total power exchange relationship when he barely knows her or anything about her and it is very obvious that she would not be mentally or emotionally prepared for such a serious kink commitment. He talks about safewords but none are actually established. Mr Grey makes BDSM seem entirely emotionless and dysfunctional. He has some obvious intimacy issues that he needs to seek professional help and when issues come up her for during play, she is not given the time and space to explore those issues and is forbidden to discuss them with anyone else.
Aside from his blatant and dysfunctional personality, he knows very little about proper BDSM. He flogs unsafe areas of the body and offers absolutely no aftercare. There is one scene where he shows up at a hardware store where she works and he is getting her help buying rope. The implication is that the rope will be used for BDSM but he buys the wrong type of rope for that purpose. Mr Grey tells her that he was introduced to BDSM in his teenage years through an inappropriate relationship with an older woman. Not only is this relationship described in a way that could be interpreted as abusive, but it is also a clear indication to the viewer that he has been engaging in kink for a long time but still has failed to learn anything about doing it safely, ethically, or without abuse.
The only difference between 50 Shades of Grey and a Criminal Minds episode is the fact that he's rich. His wildly unethical conduct is swept under the rug in the movie with his expensive gifts and trips. He uses his money to make up for his emotional shortcomings and the movie romantisizes it to make it sexy... There are so many things wrong with this I can barely know where to begin. The movie perpetuates the idea that money is a good reason to endure abuse. It perpetuates the idea that rape is sexy and that women want to be pursued in a stalker like fashion. It pushes the idea that the only people who could and would enjoy BDSM and kink are people with gross emotional issues that need professional help and are incapable of maintaining healthy relationships.
Overall, I can honestly say that I hate this movie. I got so angry while watching it that I actually cursed at the screen and I could not write the review until now even though I watched the movie a few months ago. I sincerely hate that this obscenity has become as popular as it has. It's dangerous and horrifically misinformed about what BDSM and kink really is. It is my one hope that the majority of people see this movie for the crap that it really is and that no one gets seriously injured as a result of being exposed to such garbage. The only way I would recommend this movie to anyone would be as an example of an absuive relationship.