Fifty Shades Darker is a 2017 erotic drama directed by James Foley (wait, someone decent directed this?), written by Niall Leonard (I know how you got this job) and stars Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson (Your interviews are hilariously poor), Eloise Mumford, Marcia Gay Harden, Eric Johnson, Bella Heathcote, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes and Kim Basinger. The “plot” follows the lives of the “couple” from the last movie as they do supposedly kinky “sex” stuff in between wasting potentially great movies.
I don’t want to join the bandwagon of hating the primary characters of this film. Only because, it has been done before and better. What I want to do is show the potential this film had for being though-proving and how it avoids every interesting scenario while giving us a bland and unsexy experience.
I’ll throw out my three favorite subplots which would have made for better movies than what we got.
- Leila Williams – His former submissive
What starts off a paint by numbers jilted ex-lover stalking subplot took an interesting turn at this one juncture. She holds a gun to the anesthesia inducing Anastasia Steele. One Mr. Grey comes in to intervene. The way he controls her was one of the most fascinating things about his world. With a move of his hand and saying the word “sit”, she gives him her gun and go down to her knees. She addresses him as “Master” and only as “Master”. I bought into it and was ready to see a deep dive into the psychological damage a relationship with Christian Grey could cause if not handled correctly. 2 seconds later. She’s gone. Never seen or heard from again.
2. Elena Lincoln – His former dominant
You hire Kim Basinger to be his former lover. The woman who taught him the ins and outs of the world of BDSM. Why don’t we delve into their complex psycho-sexual relationship again? Why they got together OR why they broke it off OR the kind of stranglehold she might have on his psyche OR why he found solace in her during his formative years OR why he stopped being a submissive OR so many other things that were ripe for exploration. *sigh*. See what I mean.
3. Christian Grey’s feelings about his birth mother
This might be the most divisive of all but I have a reason to like this. Hear me out. His birth mother was a crack addict who had a string of abusive men in her life. Those men physically abused the young Mr. Grey by burning him with cigarettes. His mother overdoses with him watching. Her body isn’t recovered for 3 whole days. This turns him into a sadist who likes hurting women who look like his birth mother. This is an exceptionally interesting premise I would like to see explored. I’d like to use two movies as reference points for how this can be achieved, Secretary and Shame. One of the most compelling stories of sexual development ever put to film or to the page was right there waiting for a deft treatment. But no, we choose to gloss it over in a 2 minute scene which means nothing in the grand scheme of things.
I despise the main couple of this story because of their lack of chemistry, lack of good kinky sex and lack of any reason as to what makes her better than any other girl he has been with. But hey, the movie looks gorgeous.
After a small discussion with a female friend of mine, I realized why a person could find this story interesting. As we explored the aforementioned trio of compelling subplots, she told me that those were the reasons she stuck to reading the Fifty Shades Trilogy. Even if she was left disappointed at the end of the books, these nuggets of potential kept her hooked.
There is an oft-used adage “There is nothing more common than unrealised potential”. If I were to anthropomorphise this film, it would be a living embodiment of that statement.