Paramount via Everett Collection
Yesterday, Fifty Shades of Grey added another relatively unknown actor to a cast already filled with unfamiliar faces. Victor Rasuk (above) has signed on to play José Rodriguez, the third part of the Christian Grey/Anastasia Steele love triangle. While not necessarily a huge character, José does act as a foil to Christian, and stands as a barrior between him and Anastasia – Basically, he’s Jacob from Twilight (for those of you who haven’t read Fifty Shades). So, while we are excited that the film is obviously moving along, we’re a little bit underwhelmed with the decisions the production crew is making, including the cast and the screenplay (kind of major aspects of a film). Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more apparent that this story would have been best left in the novels. But, since the film is happening, we’re counting down the ways in which Fifty Shades of Grey could potentially (definitely) disappoint us.
After many months of speculating who would be portraying the iconic (yes, strong word choice) roles of Grey and Steele, we seemed to have finally gotten our answer when Dakota Johnson and Charlie Hunnam were cast. While many fans were upset with the choices, Hunnam helped to soothe the tension by explaining that his chemistry with Johnson was “tangible.” Okay, fair enough, awesome chemistry can go a long way in making a movie about sex. However, Hunnam soon left the film, and needed to be replaced very quickly. Enter Jamie Dornan, the Irish actor who kind of looks like Grey and has even fewer acting credits than Hunnam. While there’s no reason why Dornan can’t properly portray the wonderfully twisted Grey, it’s just that he doesn’t seem to have the necessary charisma to pull off such a role. Although, to be fair, not many do. But if you’ve ever watched a Sons of Anarchy episode, you know that Hunnam has the looks, talent, and charm needed to play Grey. However, it was not Hunnam we got, and instead we have Dornan and Johnson, two somewhat obscure actors who may or may not have the acting chops to pull off these complicated roles. Though, to be fair, we always knew that the main characters would have to be played by unknown actors, as no big name star was going to attach his or her name to an erotic film based on “mommy porn.” However, it would have been nice if the rest of the cast could have been filled out with a few bigger name celebs in order to give the movie star power. But, as it turns out, the casting team is instead just hiring more vague unknowns like Rasuk and Luke Grimes (as Elliot Grey).
For months and months, there have been rumors that the Fifty Shades screenplay is a horrible mess. While, at first, there was no evidence to prove this, there are now a few reasons it looks like this may be true. The first issue seems to be the original writer, Kelly Marcel, always intended to push the envelope and stay true to the original text. She confirmed this by saying, “Well, there is going to be a lot of sex in the film. It will be NC-17. It’s going to be raunchy. We are 100 percent going there…We did go through and decide which are our [favorite moments] and which are not. Most of them are in there.” However, the studio quickly shot down that idea, releasing a statement saying, “… a rating has not been designated.” It was later stated that the studio would shoot for an R rating, a decision that could potentially annoy fans who know that the novels’ contents can not be portrayed correctly within the confinements of an R rating. So, after Marcel and the studio clearly did not agree on her script, two other writers, including Wolverine screenwriter Mark Bomback, we brought in to polish and re-write. But, as we know from previous movie disasters, having too many writers can often ruin a film.
While many love the Fifty Shades novels (myself included), there are many structural errors within the original text. For one, Steele continually has a running inner monologue where she questions her love of Grey as well as her “inner goddess’s” desires (okay, so it’s not great writing). But, this may be a tricky aspect to pull off in a film, unless they do so through voiceover – which is a tacky and bad cinematic move. Hopefully, the film will be able to portray the text in a flattering and convincing way. The novel was, after all, a huge bestseller, so there is clearly something there that readers love.
Ok, this may sound a little anti-feminist, but during the process of choosing a director, I was hoping for some like David Fincher or Sam Mendes to step and make the film a Hollywood Blockbuster as well as a twisted, yet loving romantic epic, and I wanted that person to be a man. To me, as a reader, Grey was always the main aspect that needed more explorations, but, since the novel was written by a woman, for woman, and from a woman’s perspective, he was never completely investigated. But, maybe a male director could change all that and really dive into the male psyche. Unfortunately (for me), the studio went the indie route and chose Sam Taylor-Johnson, a director whose biggest credit is Nowhere Boy, a film about John Lennon. While Taylor-Johnson may very well make this film a masterpiece, perhaps the studio would have been better off going with someone with more experience. After all, they did pick Oscar-nominated producers Dana Brunetti and Mike De Luca to head Fifty Shades, so choosing a big-name director (male or female) would have made sense.
All right, so hopefully I’m terribly wrong about all this and Fifty Shades will turn into a perfectly acted, directed and written work of art. But, until we know for sure, we’ll just have to continue speculating about every single new piece of information we get.
Fifty Shades of Grey is expected to be released Aug. 1, 2014.