So, imagine this scenario. You're just settling down with a glass of wine and the latest episode of House of Cards when your best friend rings. She's distraught, as her tumultuous affair with her boss has turned nasty: he's broken into her house, forbidden her from seeing family, and has frequently threatened physical violence. Do you a) advise her to cut all ties with the man and consult the police, or b) assure her that he really does love her and all this is just his way of showing affection.
A) is the obvious choice. But as Fifty Shades of Grey taught us, b) is the more romantic option. Which is very concerning to say the least.
The Fifty Shades of Grey book was nothing if not a talking point with its controversial content that angered everyone from conservatives to liberals, titillating others with its graphic sex scenes and steamy erotica. The film's announcement was met with a wildly mixed reaction of horror and delight, but the jury's out on whether it lived up to the hype. And now we're getting some big changes for Fifty Shades Darker, but will they just make matters worse?
What's The Deal With Grey
No discussion about Fifty Shades Darker would be complete without talking about the first film, which had its share of problems, the most glaring being it just wasn't very sexy. Let's face it, the sex is the selling point of the book. If people were in it for the "romance" (and I really need to use quotation marks for that) then they could just read Twilight. But director Sam Taylor-Johnson had to get Fifty Shades Of Grey down to an R rating, rather than the NC-17 which would have meant the movie would have a limited release. Thus, much of the erotica was gone.
Whether Fifty Shades Darker will be a bit more risque remains to be seen. There's been no word on a ratings change yet, but maybe seeing a little bit more of what made the book so popular could ensure that Fifty Shades Darker can exceed the $500+million success of the first film.
But maybe this would actually be a bad move - the sex is rough (bordering on abuse, really), and showing that in all its naked glory might detract from the emotion of the film. Even the slightly toned down sex scenes of Fifty Shades Of Grey were difficult for the actors to film, as Jamie Dornan revealed.
"The Red Room stuff was uncomfortable. There were times when Dakota was not wearing much, and I had to do stuff to her that I'd never choose to do to a woman."
With this considered, showing the uncensored sex scenes it may be too shocking for even hardcore fans of the book. So there's a bit of a Catch 22 situation here: show the sex and risk losing fans, or don't show the sex and... risk losing fans.
It's a tricky situation. And one which would be difficult for any director, but new director James Foley has to resolve this issue, as well as filling Sam Taylor-Johnson's shoes, which won't be easy.
Sam Taylor-Johnson is one of Hollywood's most prolific female directors, and she took a lot of care with Fifty Shades Of Grey to ensure she balanced respect for the source material with fan expectations. However, she wasn't exactly quiet about the difficulties she had with author E.L. James, who retained a lot of creative control in the adaptation process.
"We battled all the way through. She'd say the same. There were tough times and revelatory times. There were sparring contests. It was definitely not an easy process. I kept trying to remind myself that they hired me for a reason. Some people said to me, 'I'm surprised you haven't quit.' I was like, 'Why would you think I'd quit?' I never quit anything. Not without a fight."
But quit she did, leading many to speculate that it was artistic differences that caused Taylor-Johnson to leave the franchise.
Whether Foley will have similar problems remains to be seen, but Dakota Johnson is confident that his directoral style will benefit Fifty Shades Darker.
"Now I'm excited. I think James is a talented filmmaker. How often do you get to reconvene with the same people and have a different spin?"
Dakota Johnson has done a fantastic job of creating a sympathetic leading character - she understands the book well enough to bring Ana to life in a way that humanises the experience (though that has the backlash of making her anguish just all the more uncomfortable for the viewer). So if she's confident in Foley, then maybe this directoral shakeup is a good thing for Fifty Shades Darker.
Oh, The Controversy
So will Fifty Shades Darker disappoint fans? Well, I suppose that depends on what kind of a fan you are. If you're in it for the erotica, it looks like the R rating may be staying for the sequel, which means we won't get a lot of sex in this sex epic. If you're in it for the director, then Foley has a lot to prove, but so far reports are pretty kind.
But if you're in it for the controversy, well, it doesn't look like the opinion train's ever slowing down when it comes to the Fifty Shades franchise. I'd suggest checking out Twitter for all the latest Fifty Shades reactions and gossip - E.L. James' recent question time provoked some hilarious responses. And who could forget Matilda star Mara Wilson's feud with the author?
Good old Matilda.
But what do you think: should Fifty Shades Darker dial up the steamy sex scenes, and is Taylor-Johnson's departure a blow to the franchise? Let us know in the comments, or write your own post!