Fifty Shades of Grey was the most controversial film of 2015, its international release curtailed by multiple countries banning the movie, while many protested its release in the US. Fifty Shades Of Grey was criticised from every angle possible: there was too much sex, or there wasn't enough; it romanticised abuse, or the romance was ignored... Opinions on Fifty Shades Of Grey have been wildly disparate since the book itself was published, and the only thing these views have in common is that they're usually expressed loudly (and with vigour).
Of course, all of this does make for excellent marketing, and Fifty Shades Darker is ready to ride that hype train right up to release (that is, if it ever gets out of development hell). To keep things fresh, we could be seeing some major changes in Fifty Shades Darker, though Dakota Johnson's latest revelation is something none of us expected...
Fifty Shades Darker: A Comedy?
Humour might not be the first thing you think of when someone mentions Fifty Shades Of Grey, but there's no denying that some parts of the book (and movie) are downright hilarious. With descriptors such as "the colour of the communist manifesto" and the oft used "holy crap!", EL James' writing style certainly does amuse. Though that's probably not what Dakota Johnson meant when she said Fifty Shades Darker needs to get a sense of humour.
Dakota Johnson was an interesting choice for Anastasia: she's a relatively unknown actress who has been shot into the spotlight thanks to her role in this franchise. The reviews of her portrayal of Ana are fairly mixed, but usually critics agree that she brought a level of humanity to the film that allowed the audience to sympathise with Ana's plight... though that just made some of the more arduous scenes harder to watch.
As the books continue, Ana finds herself dragged deeper into Christian's complicated and difficult life, and she suffers for it (and that suffering isn't always consensual). Naturally, many fans are assuming the films will follow the same route, getting darker and darker as the story progresses. But Dakota Johnson is advocating a lighter side to the story.
In an interview with Elle, Johnson explained how difficult it is for viewers to relate to Ana. After all, not all of us have corporate billionaires to rush us off in private helicopters (and considering what they want in return, I'm ok with that). Her solution? Make Anastasia funny! And that actually makes a lot of sense. The audience needs to sympathise with Ana, but crucially, without a sense of comedy in the films, the subject matter just gets too heavy.
And that's pretty much exactly what Dakota Johnson meant: that without a sense of humour these films are just hard to watch.
"If you can’t laugh during a movie like that, you’re fucked. Literally. You need to have something that everyone can relate to."
But of course, there's a danger in making the plot too lighthearted...
Let's face it, the Fifty Shades franchise isn't quite sure what it is. Is it a romance or erotica? Or a serious examination of the power dynamics in relationships? Most critics agree that the film failed to pack any sort of punch, turning what should have been exciting and potentially infuriating into a dreary drag.
"Like a lot of people, I was hot with anticipation ahead of Fifty Shades of Grey. Or, rather, at the prospect of having an appalled, outraged reaction. Yet I exited the press screening in Berlin feeling just, well, flat. It’s a numbing bore of a movie, and I can’t even work up much righteous indignation over its retrograde view of relationships."
Ultimately, Fifty Shades Darker needs to be balanced, but it also needs to have a clear idea about the implications of the story. It's true that the franchise is in desperate need of some comedic moments, but at the same time if they inject too much humour into the story then the gravity of Ana's situation will be lost. The last thing the moviemakers should do is trivialise what is quite clearly a disturbing and difficult relationship.
Ana needs to have a full character, confident and with the sense of humour she needs to weather the storm that is Christian Grey. But it's certainly possible to go too far with comedy, and here's hoping that Fifty Shades Darker stays true to the incredibly concerning situation Ana has been dragged into...
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