Love it or hate it, E.L. James's Fifty Shades of Grey is a cultural phenomenon. It's a polarizing work inside and out of romance circles, but its bestseller status many times over and overwhelming penchant as watercooler talk made a transition to the big screen basically inevitable. The thing is, its popularity means that just about everyone has an opinion on the idea of a BDSM romance novel translating to theaters. It's really the first exposure of the genre to blockbuster feature film status. And regardless of the final product, Fifty Shades of Grey struck a chord with people across the globe for a reason, and above all, the film version has to respect that. The Fifty Shades film should make us love it for the same reasons the book resonated with so many. It must reflect the story we've come to know and in order to do that, it has to nail three things: the extreme sex, the proper articulation and balance of the romance, and Christian Grey.
As a film, Fifty Shades of Grey has one objective to accomplish: Walking the tightrope of honoring what fans and readers love about the addictive quality of the work while doing justice to our overactive imaginations as we've devoured the story and know it well. It needs to take itself seriously but not too seriously.
The intensity that should have come across in the first official trailer released this summer at times unfortunately just feels slow, boring, and even cold. So often BDSM is portrayed poorly and inaccurately, and with the visual component of the props and the Red Room of Pain, it cannot be a bunch of cheap thrills. It can't be stereotype and it can't just be an extreme version of Twilight. Execution of the BDSM lifestyle here is a concern, and it's one of the main hit-or-miss elements upon which the film's success hinders, and there will be plenty of fact-checkers in the audience.