The verdict on the never-before-seen footage of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie implies that the S&M quotient, which made the E.L. James trilogy such a sensation, may be disappointingly tame in the film version. The early footage was screened by Universal Studio before cinema owners and journalists at the annual CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Tuesday along with Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken and Fast 7.
The almost two minutes-long teaser packed very little in terms of the sexual tension that flavors the books by British author E.L. James. Attendees felt that Universal played it safe, showing more courtship than any real action between the lead characters billionaire Christian Grey and his “sex-slave”Anastasia Steele. The movie, set to hit the screens in time for Valentines Day next year, is the big screen adaptation of the first book in the trilogy.
Stars Jamie Dornan, playing the kinky rich man, and Dakota Johnson, as his well-paid and willing sex-slave may have a great on-screen chemistry. But everyone is wondering why they were making “moon-eyes” at each other instead of flipping out the audience the way the books burned up millions of readers.
The footage has been criticized for the rather romantic character of the relationship, which was showcased in the book as a sadomasochistic one, fraught with tension. The two attractive actors looking at each other in between job interviews and helicopter rides has not managed to convey their erotic strain. Many attendees felt that Fifty Shades of Grey movie may be tamer than its sensational literary version.
However, it is not entirely devoid of its fabled sexual character: There is a brief image of a red room, where Steele is wearing a mask; a fleeting glimpse of a whip and a confession by Grey that his tastes were “very singular”. Elsewhere on the clip, Grey is shown pushing Steele up against a wall and saying “hearts and flowers- that’s not who I am”.
Opening with a look at Seattle’s skyline under a mostly grey sky and a slow piano solo playing in the background, the clip shows Anastasia telling her roommate Kate about the first time she met Grey. Kate, played by Eloise Mumford, wants to know what he (Grey) was like and Anastasia’s answers are heard as a voiceover when the scene of their meeting begins. Grey’s assistant tells Anastasia that Mr. Grey will see her now before she is shown entering a large and impeccable office.
On the voiceover, Anastasia tells Kate that he was “really smart, intense; their hands briefly graze when he passes her a pencil engraved with his name; the next frame shows him helping her into a jacket and Anastasia’s voice continues to say he was vey courteous. And then the popular elevator exchange between Grey and Steele plays out: They say each other’s name as the elevator doors close and the background music kicks into a fast pace that is visually met with scenes of their passionate courtship.
However, Anastasia realizes she is in too deep when Grey opens the door to the red room. Anastasia’s voiceover is back saying she didn’t know if she could be with Grey the way he needed her to be. The trailer ends with a worried Anastasia asking Grey why he was trying to change her and an emotional Grey telling her that it was her who was changing him.
The movie adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey has been directed by Taylor-Johnson, who was hired in June 2013 reportedly over luminary directors like Gus van Sant, Joe Wright and Bennett Miller. For the artist-turned film-maker, this is her second feature film the first one being Nowhere Boy, the critically acclaimed biopic on John Lennon released in 2009.
The film, which was supposed to have been released in August 2014, was delayed because Charlie Hunnam suddenly abandoned the role of Grey. The news came amidst rumors that the Pacific Rim and Sons of Anarchy star couldn’t handle the inordinate attention he was getting from fans. Slated for a Valentines Day release in 2015, many are wondering if the movie will live up to the Fifty Shades of Grey book or be a tame, romantic shadow of it.
By Aruna Iyer