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‘50 Shades Darker’ steams up all windows in the nation

(Courtesy of 50 Shades Darker Facebook page)

As if the “ooh”s and “ah”s circling the confines of the theater weren’t telling enough, the shrills of women as Christian Grey takes his shirt off will certainly let you know that “Fifty Shades Darker” is nothing short of a passionate cry from the longtime fans of E.L. James’ novels.

As someone who relishes watching romantic comedies, thrillers and the like, I found it quite uncomfortable and unbearable to watch knowing that the director simply succumbed to directing a film that is essentially worshipped by women all over the world. It seems as if the director, James Foley, made this film with the intention of putting the classic climax on the side, and replacing it with sheer romance and seduction.

Throughout, Grey still struggles with his identity, as well as his thirst for dominance. We hardly ever see main character Anastasia Steele by herself, since Grey sweeps her off her feet within the first 10 minutes of the film.

I would have hoped to see have seen more dialogue between her and the characters added on to soften Christian’s appearances in the film, as well as more of a plot, compared to the experience of watching the two have sex for an hour and a half. The plot thickens though, when Christian and Ana, who got along so well in the first film, agree to actually pursue a real, full-time relationship.

Although the movie does a superb job of painting the sexy picture that was all in our heads when we first scrolled through the pages of E.L. James’ novels, it should be fairly obvious that this film is not one you want to take your eight-year-old cousin to. They will become very confused and most likely leave slightly scarred. Not even 10 minutes into the film, the dynamic duo have already performed numerous sexual acts upon one another, making the film that much steamier as a viewing experience.

Foley truly ramps up the sex factor in this film, leaving even first-date couples ready for some passionate time alone. Needless to say, he makes the most of each opportunity to make the hair on one’s skin stand up, a feeling he creates every time that Christian and Ana are together.

From the impeccably sensuous set design, and the use of overly dramatic costumes, Foley does a remarkable job of capturing what audiences wanted all along.

As thoroughly enjoyable as the film is, one has to already share the same fantasies that James creates within her novels in order to fully embrace the central relationship. As someone who isn’t necessarily attracted to the dominant Christian, I found the film to be a rather gross celebration of a toxic, abusive relationship. Rarely, if ever, does Christian show much concern for Ana’s well-being while they have sex. An erotic movie that deemphasizes the importance of consent is difficult to endorse.

However, if you play into the sexual demands and desires that everybody recognizes within the movie as the ultimate dominant/submissive fantasy, it’s an instant romantic comedy. I look forward to seeing future installments in the “Fifty Shades” series, especially because I have no clue how Ana and Christian could possibly have a more thrilling life without destroying the ideals that E.L. James set up from the start.

Cassidy Kotyla can be reached at ckotyla@umass.edu and be followed on Twitter @CassidyKotyla.

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