May 13 2013 1:00pm

Who’s Wright to Direct Fifty Shades of Grey?

Fifty Shades of Grey by EL JamesLate last week, the internet lit up with another exciting rumor on the potential creative team for the film adaptation of E.L. James's Fifty Shades of Grey—this time, it was the stunning news that British director Joe Wright has become the front runner choice for director. His name has been added to a list of film makers under consideration that apparently includes Gus Van Sant, Patty Jenkins and, oddest of all, Bennett Miller.

(ETA: Deadline now reports that Wright is out of the running, but that doesn't mean he's not the best choice—plus, schedules can change!)

Van Sant might do this movie some justice; in fact he's proven himself quite able to cover male/male sensuality in past films such as Milk, My Own Private Idaho and Mala Noche. But Wright seems like the better choice, given his sensual-overload filmmaking style and proven talent for representing a woman's emotional inner life on screen. One can only hope that if he really is on the short list, that the folks over at the film company Focus Features, and novelist/producer E.L. James (in between her script burning sessions with Kelly Marcel) will seriously consider him.

Joe Wright has a well established knack for high-end book adaptations. His most recent film was last year's Anna Karenina, a fantastical satin-lined waltz through the original Tolstoy novel that explored many forms of love and desire. It was an extremely adult-themed film, full of romance and seduction, and rated R in the USA for good measure. Previous Wright films Pride and Prejudice and Atonement also included heavy drama, romance, and intense emotions, not to mention being flush with stunning visuals and sensual production design.

Wright is great with with actors. He is quite good at finding exciting young acting talent (see Saoirse Ronan in Atonement & Hanna) and getting impressive performances out of young actors (Domhnall Gleeson & Alicia Vikander in Anna Karenina). He's done some surprising work with more seasoned actors, providing us new and different performances from them (Matthew MacFadyen in Anna Karenina, Cate Blanchett in Hanna). Given the constant stream of rumors about various actors and actresses who may or may not be talking to the filmmakers, it’s a sure bet that a cast chosen with Wright’s involvement would be an exciting one.

All of this suggests Wright just might be ideal to rise to the formidable task of taking E.L.James' XXX-level story and getting the right balance of love and lust, pleasure and pain, emotional intelligence, and respect for the source material that can make a movie version work.

Also challenging will be finding the most engaging way to make this an R-rated film, if that's what the studio and the producers decide must be done. Based on a recent statement from producer Michael DeLuca, an R-rated, toned down and “artistic” interpretation is more likely. Though the screenwriter had been quoted in press as saying they are going for an NC-17, this rating is the “kiss of death” in the American movie industry—most theaters will refuse to play such films and box office potential is severely limited.

While it can be hard to keep up with all the crazy rumors surrounding this movie, and we can't know for sure if Joe Wright is really in the running for this directing job, we ladies who enjoyed the books and love a good steamy romance on film could be very well satisfied if this talented Brit decides to take on Mr. Grey's Fifty Shades.


BlitzInk has also been known elsewhere on the internet as ProgGrrl (@ProgGrrl).

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Megan Frampton
1. MFrampton
I just don't see how they can do justice to the film without it getting an NC-17 rating--I'm wondering if it's possible this would be a movie that could succeed despite the prohibitive rating, because so many people would be curious to see it. I've liked the two Wright films I've seen, so if h does take it on, I bet he'd do a good job.
Heather Waters (redline_)
2. redline_
To be completely honest, I don't have much interest in seeing this movie, except...Joe Wright directing it would make me more curious, I have to say, because I really respect his work with Atonement, P&P, et al.
Wright just might be ideal to rise to the formidable task of taking E.L.James' XXX-level story and getting the right balance of love and lust, pleasure and pain, emotional intelligence, and respect for the source material...
Jennifer Proffitt
3. JenniferProffitt
I think we've been saying all along that no matter who was cast in the lead roles that how well the film does will depend on the creative team behind the scenes. I would have liked Joe Wright, but since this looks like it's definitely going through, I hope they make a good choice no matter who it is.
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