It has sold over 100 million books in over 52 languages worldwide. It has become the UK's fastest ever selling book. It is the most talked about literature subject of many years. Heard of it? Yes! It is Fifty Shades of Grey!
Given this success, it was almost guaranteed to be adapted into a film at some point. So Hollywood obliged and churned out a film quickly for fans. Presented with a world-premiere at this years Berlinale film festival, we have just seen. So ... what is the film like?
For those unaware of the book's narrative, it follows the story of Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), a college graduate who takes her friend's place at an interview with a young, billionaire tycoon - Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). But, what Anastasia soon finds, is that Grey is not all he seems, as she is invited to join him in sexual encounters.
Brought back to the basics, it is essentially a story of a prince meeting a princess - just that the prince has several strange passions. 'I don't do romance, my tastes are singular' he says ... which is an merely an innuendo for over-the-top sexual endeavours, which include - but not limited to; bondage, whipping, ropes, dominance and submission.
Obviously this is the talking point of the adaptation given its nature. So, how has this been translated from the book to the screen? Mainly it is slow-motion effects, close-ups and aerial shots with heavy breathing. Not to say that this is restricted from the novel's original ideas, as there are many nude shots in its twenty-odd minute sexual scenes (in the total running time of two-hours).
The two leads of the film, Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey are also noteworthy of some mention. When first announced, names such as; Clooney, Gosling and Pattinson came to mind for the role of Grey, with Johansson and Lawrence up for the role of Ana'. Ultimately the roles went to Dakota and Jamie Dornan ...
Visually they both look the part. Dornan as Grey; the Bruce Wayne-like billionaire, who lives within the finest luxuries (yet a dark twist). And Anastasia, as the awkward college grad who seems out of her league. It starts shallow with some awkwardness, conferences and business formalities. But soon transforms into bulk sex scenes with some small intercepts between.
Helicopter rides, skyline view hotels, and kinky sex-rooms (playrooms) are all the range, as the film pushes erotic boundaries like no other. Where most dramatic romances have about one bedroom sex scene, this, by comparison has at least eight. Likewise in the comparison, Fifty Shades' is more explicit than them too.
Visually, director Sam Taylor-Johnson has shot it with class. In terms of sound it also compensates from Danny Elfman's backing, plus tunes from Beyonce, Ellie Golding and many others providing lyrical pleasure. But it seems more like the soundtrack was created to tie in with Valentines day, rather than the film.
Raising questions such as why is the sex-weirdness so important, and what are the Fifty different Shades of Grey? Much is left on edge and - as fans of the novel will know, it ends of a cliff-hanger. Which, conveniently gets you to read the following two books (which have just been announced as upcoming films too).
The big question, should you see it? Yes, other than divulging fans of the book, it does actually contains some potential of intriguing story too - other than the pornography headlines.