Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Thursday 27 March 2014

Fifty Shades of Grey...

... has reared its head again.

I refrained, you will notice, from calling it an ugly head, but don’t think I wasn’t tempted.

There’s going to be a movie. Or perhaps it’s a film.

I make the distinction, because I generally think of movies as American bums-on-seats fodder and films as European and, potentially at least, a little more artistic, more likely to be worthy of a bit of critical attention.

That’s where my confusion lies. 

I can understand making a bums-on-seats movie of Fifty Shades but a film?

It’s all down to the choice of director.

Sam Taylor Johnson is heading up this movie. Sam Taylor Johnson the artist is directing this  film. You know... Sam Taylor... Johnson!

She’s well known in the Brit Art World. She was a YBA in the nineties, was married to Jay Jopling, is a contemporary of Damien Hirst. That Sam Taylor Johnson. She used to be Sam Taylor Wood, back in the day.

I’m a bit of a fan of some of her photography.

E L James and Sam Taylor Johnson
I haven’t seen her first film Nowhere Boy, but it had some good and even glowing reviews, and was nominated for a BAFTA in 2010. It wasn’t an art film, as it happens; it was pretty conventionally done. Nevertheless I can’t get it out of my head that Sam Taylor Johnson is making Fifty Shades of Grey.

The idea has thrown me quite out of whack.

You all know that I’m not a fan of this book. The premise of a twenty-two year old virgin falling for a twenty-seven year old billionaire is utterly unthinkable; not least because I can’t imagine two people less likely to exist on this Earth, let alone meet. Add to that horrible writing and dull sex, and it’s hard for me to imagine a book that anyone would want to read, let alone a movie/film that anyone would want to see.

Except... Except I wonder what Sam Taylor Johnson might be capable of doing with this.

Who adapted the screenplay? Well, that would by Kelly Marcel. I'm not familiar with her work. Has she managed to produce some dialogue that actually works, given this material? Or has she done something extraordinary with what’s on the existing pages? It's hard to imagine what that might be, but who knows?

Taylor Johnson is in her forties, has been in a number of relationships with men, who appear, on the face of it at least, to be interesting, and has four children, so has the voice of experience given her a directing perspective on this film that might just make it interesting for the rest of us? 

Was there room for a deeper reading of a text like this one?

Might there have been a place for humour? Or, dare I say it, irony?

I don’t know. I can’t say.

Do I wish I did know? Do I wish I could say?

I suppose it was inevitable, one way or another, that this movie/film would be made. I suppose it is inevitable that it will be a huge box office success. If as many people see the movie as bought the book, it’ll run and run... and run... and run. There’ll be no escaping it.

I’m going to reserve judgement.

I’m going to reserve judgement for a very long time.

I won’t be one of the first bums on one of the first seats. I probably won’t even watch this movie at the cinema. I doubt I’ll buy it on DVD, or rent it, for that matter.

There’s a good chance I’ll wait to see this thing on Netflix, if I see it at all.

I just might see it one day, because I still can’t get over the fact that the celebrated fine artist Sam Taylor Johnson was chosen to direct Fifty Shades of Grey.

Go figure.


  1. :) even if the sex was dull I certainly enjoyed the story line and that was developed in the subsequent books. In my humble opinion you understand x

  2. It didn't reach my reading table or remotely wanted to read as far as I am concerned it can gather dust with the twilight series.

  3. I've come to the conclusion that the reaction to the storyline in FSOG falls into one of three camps: 1) this is so romantic, 2) OMG this is a seriously mentally abusive relationship, and 3) meh.

    I haven't met a single person - even the people who love the book - who claim the writing was good.

    I suspect the film is going to produce the same three reactions.

  4. I remember this lady, she is the wife of Aaron Taylor Johnson who played the titular character of the Kick Ass movies. Always seemed a bit of a creepy relationship given that they first met because she directed him in Nowhere Boy when he was a late teen, but relationships come in all forms so no judgment.