Reel Relationships: Fifty Shades of Grey – An Invitation to Explore Your Fantasies?

Fifty Shades Poster 2Movie: “Fifty Shades of Grey”
Writers: Kelly Marcel (screenplay), based on novel by E.L. James
Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Cast: Dakota Johnson (Anastasia Steele), Jamie Dornan (Christian Grey)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Adult
Release date: February 13, 2015

Synopsis: Literature student Anastasia Steele’s life changes forever when she meets the handsome, yet tormented, billionaire Christian Grey.

SPOILER ALERT: We’re going to dissect Anastasia and Christian’s relationship, including the sex scenes.


Romance novels and films are to women what comic book and action-adventure books and flicks are to men. While males like superheroes overcoming impossible odds and villains to save the world, females love down-to-earth heroines who are intensely pursued by sexy bad boys, fall in love, and overcome the conflicts to tame him enough to live (and have great sex) happily ever after.

And while men get hot over graphic porn, women tend to heat up with soft porn fueled by emotional intimacy. Due to “Fifty Shades of Grey,” we now know if you add a little B&D (bondage and dominance) to the mix, you’ve got a winner.

In the novel by E.L. James, there’s a hot erotic scene in every chapter, and the author keeps it fresh by making each sexual encounter different. Christian Grey’s dominance, sexual mastery and use of bondage and discipline to create ecstasy in the ever-receptive Anastasia Steele hooked women of all ages.

READ: Jane’s Review of “Fifty Shades of Grey”

The film, also written, adapted and edited by women, was made for the largest possible audience, so the sex scenes are only gently erotic rather than hot and heavy. Still, we see 21 minutes of suggestive shots, many of Anastasia’s (Dakota Johnson) luscious body stretched from neck to pelvis, tied up with neck ties, cuffs or rope, so all she can do is receive Christian’s (Josh Dornan) passionate attention.

Luckily, we also get to see Christian’s hunky body, as well, and one very, too-fast shot of him wholly nude. The writing in the book makes the many scenes where Christian slaps Ana’s butt or expertly uses a whip sexy, in large part because E.L. James captures Christian’s expertise and desire to give Ana pleasure, as well as Ana’s ecstatic orgasms. The few times the film shows it, it’s more of a narrative explanation than a turn on. Still, the sex scenes whisper to women: “Anastasia could be me.” Now that’s a stimulating thought.

What are the rest of the 104 minutes of running time devoted to? Just like in real life, the romance and relationship that’s foreplay to the titillation of the sex.

From the scene where Ana and Christian meet until the scene where they part, close-ups and reaction shots, edited back and forth between them, show us their immediate attraction, and create a sense of chemistry, intimacy and connection. We get to read their emotions on their faces and track all their non-verbal cues (which women are biologically programmed to do).

They’re not flirting: they are who they are. When Anastasia meets Christian, she is natural and vulnerable, her face and stumbling words an open book; her unfailing emotional honesty is a magnet for the powerful, controlling and confident, but emotionally blocked Christian.

Attraction and chemistry can happen in a flash, just like that. What’s true about this couple’s sexual magnetism is that their opposites do attract. Christian is a high testosterone, alpha male, the characteristics of which are: wanting more sex, being more competitive, more dominant, more aggressive, punishing, singularly- focused, action-oriented and less verbal.

Anastasia is a high estrogen female: she is strongly relationship-oriented, sensitive to sound and facial expressions, is connected to, honors and expresses her emotions, values communication and uses it to ask questions, probe and process problems. Sexually, estrogen heightens sensitivity and pleasure, boosts the libido and strengthens the orgasm. Ana is nothing if not responsive.

In real life, women are attracted to men like Christian who are on a mission, are present, passionately desire them, assertive and whom they can trust. They dream about being ravished by just such a man–and in romance novels they are. Men, on the other hand, are captivated by radiant, vulnerable, sexually responsive women they can satisfy.

Great sex can cement a relationship because everything about it, from foreplay to orgasm, releases oxytocin, the bonding hormone. Women in particular are susceptible to the attachment sex brings. Ana, the virgin, in the able hands (and cuffs) of the ardent and skilled Christian, doesn’t have a chance. Of course she falls in love. And whether or not he can see it, we do: the sex is drawing him ever-deeper into his connection to Ana. And as he pushes the sexual boundaries, she pushes the emotional ones.

Ana and Christian have a long way to go before they can make a life together. As many of us may have experienced, initial chemistry doesn’t necessarily mean that we have enough (or anything) in common or the maturity and will to make a meaningful relationship. Because sexual chemistry is so powerful and the sizzle often fizzles, it’s sometimes hard to tell if there’s also an immediate spiritual chemistry–two souls intuitively recognizing a genuine attachment.

Even having a spiritual bond might not be enough for a relationship to succeed, but along with sexual chemistry, it is a strong motivation to work through the differences and the power struggles to become healthy partners.


Well, if you’re a woman who is aroused by this erotic romance or curious about some of what you’ve seen in “Fifty Shades,” experiment! If you’re a man with just such a woman, don’t just sit there and waste a perfectly good opportunity for adventure and variety. Can your sex life be better? You’ll never know unless you try new things.

We’ve found that couples are often reluctant to share their fantasies because they’re weird, tabooed and/or not anything they’d ever want to do in real life. They’re also embarrassed or afraid of judgment. In fact, the images you imagine in the privacy of your own brain and body can be strange to anyone else. But having the courage to share them with your partner is another step in sexual intimacy. And there can be elements that, not only can you do, but bring you and your partner great pleasure. All you need is mutual interest and consent.

For example, many women visualize being totally dominated and ravished by a man. This is where the sex play of being tied down and blindfolded comes in. Now the woman is 100% passive and just able to feel and receive. Now, just because she is vulnerable doesn’t mean her lover can do anything he wants to do. In this specific situation, it’s about her needs and his skill in delivering them. When it’s his turn, it’s about him.

The point is, use this modern-day bodice ripper to learn to communicate better with your partner about your fantasies, explore, have fun, get closer and go deeper.


2 responses to “Reel Relationships: Fifty Shades of Grey – An Invitation to Explore Your Fantasies?”

  1. Sarah Fawcett Avatar

    I didn’t feel the attraction or the chemistry between the characters in the movie that you detail. I felt it lacked romance and missed the feel-good moments that the book expertly describes. The characters are so one-dimensional in the film; I saw it as, ‘You’re hot, Ana’ and “You are too, Christian’ and finally, ‘let’s have sex.’ It was definitely erotica, but not romance to me. However, your character analysis helps to bring light and depth to the main characters: ‘Anastasia is a high estrogen female’ and ‘Christian is a high testosterone, alpha male’. You delve into their personalities that the film does not show and helps me (and others) to see that it wasn’t all superficial, especially if someone hasn’t read the novel. I especially like your ‘TAKE AWAY’…It’s great advice for a marriage or for a someone who just enjoys sex. Thanks for a different take on a movie that I didn’t particularly like. Great job!

  2. Judith Claire Avatar

    Hi Sarah,

    Thank you for your supportive comments. I’m really into looking at the male/female dynamics using the prism of how our hormones affect us. It’s a very useful tool. I wrote “So THAT’S Why They Do That! Men, Women And Their Hormones” because so many of the couples I see in couples counseling don’t get that at least half their issues stem from simply not understanding how their partner is built and, as a result, how they see things differently from them. You sound like a curious, insightful woman. Check out the book. I think it will expand your understanding. Best, Judith

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