The latest Facebook craze is to tell the world seven random things about yourself. Mine include the fact that I can juggle; that I dislike being called ‘Babe’ and how I may be the only woman with a pulse who has not read 50 Shades of Grey. So when I got a ticket for the first night in Newbridge, I couldn’t wait to go and see what the fuss was all about.
I was given the book as a gift but never got past the first couple of chapters, unlike the rest of the county. For months the car park at school was a silent place as the mums squeezed in a few chapters before the end of school. Car windows were literally steamed up.
Superstore B&Q sent out a letter to all stores last week preparing their staff for the rush in demand for certain DIY essentials that they anticipate the movie will make popular. I asked Moore’s Builders Providers in Newbridge if their management had done they same. “No” the guy behind the counter told me flatly. But he added that you can buy a masking tape, cable ties and rope trio for less than €15.
EL James wrote the book on a mobile device as she commuted to work. The book, which was universally disliked by reviewers, went on to sell over 100 million copies worldwide. Many women hold 50 Shades Of Grey responsible for putting the sexy back into their relationships. “I’m on FIRE” one friend told me after she’d finished it.
I headed along to the Odeon with Lorna. She read all three books and was madly excited about the whole thing. So was half of Newbridge. It was Valentine’s Day and while my romance was at home, his head over a bowl of hot water treating man flu, I found myself sitting next to a man in his sixties man who was eating popcorn with his left hand and clinging onto his wife’s hand for dear life with the right. He was in the minority; the audience was predominantly female.
The film opens with a wardrobe. Inside, row upon row of clean white shirts, perfectly ironed and beside them, a line of bespoke suits. That automatically sent Lorna’s pulse racing. She is OCD about laundry. Next a shot of a man getting dressed doing up the buttons on the beautifully ironed shirt. This was Christian Grey, a fine looking twenty seven year old billionaire with a helicopter and a thing for grey ties. Jamie Dornan plays him with a lazy eye and slightly odd voice.
Next we meet Anastasia Steele, the young artistic graduate, who is mad about literature. She is so cool that she hangs her bike on the wall of her flat and drives a VW Beetle. They meet when she interviews him for the student newspaper, so far so good. Actress Dakota Johnson, is one brave woman to take on the role.
Twenty minutes in and the tittering started around me. “Is it meant to be a comedy?” I innocently whispered to Lorna. Everyone but me knew what was coming up. Christian arrives in Clayton’s hardware shop, where Anastasia works. He requests masking tape. “Are you redecorating?” she asks. The audience burst into fits of laughter, they knew the story. He flirts, she flirts back and so it begins.
He sends her antique books in the post and she falls for the handsome, mysterious businessman. Fast forward and she arrives in his swanky apartment where Christian leads her to his “playroom”. In his controlling manner, he tells her to “Try and keep an open mind”. With a turn of the handle, his secret is revealed, a dungeon like room with red walls. Hanging from metal rails we see whips, ropes, wrist cuffs and gags. It wasn’t shocking, far from it. It was all very familiar.
There is not a tack room in the county that doesn’t look a little bit like it. Obviously there was no hay, horses or sweeping brushes lying around, and red is not the colour most horsey people go for in their stables but most of Grey’s S&M paraphernalia can be bought locally with ease. Sadistic Grey would love Kildare. He’d spend a fortune in TRI.
Next, without her knowledge, Christian sells Anastasia’s battered VW Beetle. He takes her in his helicopter, in his glider, then for a ride in several of his fast cars. There’s plenty of shots of the sky and the two of them doing loop the loops. Back on terra firma, he buys her a shiny red car of her own and then asks if she will sign a contract.
If she agrees to sign, she will act as submissive to the smartly dressed dominant Christian Grey. The catch is that she will have to willingly take the role of his submissive and agree to be flogged, humiliated and be physically restrained by bondage. For doing so, she gets her own bedroom in his apartment with glitzy wallpaper and a plush headboard. Does she sign and become his slave or leave? I won’t spoil it for the other three people in the county who have not read the book.
Is there much sex in it? Loads. In two hours they had done it over a piano, on a chair, in the bath, tied up hanging from the ceiling, on a bed AND on a bench. That’s not to mention all the slapping, spanking, feathers and ice cubes. This is not a film for the romantic. “There’s much more sex in the book,” Lorna said, sounding a little disappointed half way through. “MORE SEX?” I replied with disbelief. Had she been asleep?
Two hours flew by and by the end of the film I discovered that Christian Grey and I have a few things in common. We’re not very good at romance, we both like flying in gliders and have the very same taste in light fittings. We also have a well-equipped playroom. The difference is that mine is filled with kids kid’s toys – for the time being.