On one of the hottest days we've had all year in Adelaide, it was only necessary to attend the steamy premiere of Fifty Shades Darker at GU Film House in their V-Max theatre. We were greeted on the red carpet with glasses of much needed champagne and a photo opportunity to show off the 'after-dark glamour' dress code, in anticipation for the follow up to 2015's blockbuster, Fifty Shades of Grey. Walking into the cinema – glass of bubbles in hand – we also received a gift bag thanks to Universal filled with goodies: a mini bottle of Woodstock champagne, a Trefiel face mask and block of Naked Truth chocolate goodness; it perfectly tied in with the theme.
As we sat in the soft but large leather chairs that you could easily snooze in, the movie began. Opening with a flash-back dream, Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), was having of his childhood abuse, this may have been a startle for some unprepared folks – though they might've been prepped for raunchy AF sex scenes – this film gave off a more story-telling, insightful vibe than the glorified S&M sex tape that the first movie arguably was. Depending who you're talking to, the series is either a hit or a miss, there's no ~grey~ area. From having no interest in the franchise before this film screening myself, by the end of the film I found myself wanting to see the third instalment, Fifty Shades Freed.
Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) comes into the movie a 'new woman' (using that term fast and loose) as she's gone three weeks without Christian in her life... and vagina. He sends her flowers that she almost throws away, to wish her well on her new job at a Seattle publishing house. In the beginning of the film, Ana is slightly hesitant toward letting Christian back into her life, but accepts dinner with him 'cause a girl's gotta eat... food. He obviously wants her back since he blatantly says those exact words to her, and she accepts on her own terms "no rules, no punishment and no more secrets". During the film they rekindle their crazy connection for each other and his sex toys, but they also build trust and love with an actual relationship! I know right? They're sort of "vanilla" now.
Nonetheless, Christian's character comes a long way throughout the film as he slowly reveals truths of his past to Ana, and yes, he is a "sadist" who gets off on the pain of women who look like his birth mother. He also admits how fucked up that is. Well, the first step is admitting you have a problem buddy #characterbuilding.
Ana meets the mysterious Mrs. Robinson (Kim Basinger), the woman who seduced him in his youth and introduced him to the dom/sub lifestyle he is so accustomed to today. Another blast from the past comes to screen as Ana gets super stalked by one of Christian's crazy-in-love ex subs (Bella Heathcote), who becomes consumed with jealousy by Ana and Christians relationship.
Oh and there's one more character we should be heavily concerned about - Ana's new boss Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), who is undeniably sexy in his starring role. He learns of Ana and Christian's relationship and becomes oddly jealous, while getting creepier by the minute, basically telling Ana he'd make her cum like she never has before... pffff boy please have you seen them in the 'red room' together? Sit down you're done here. We don't see Jack much again throughout the film until the end where he watches the Grey family from afar as they celebrate with a firework display at their monster of an estate. To quote the guy sitting in front of me in the theatre "he looks like Sideshow Bob, like he's about to do that evil laugh and plan his next move"... touché my friend.
What this movie has that most will appreciate is a killlller soundtrack. With songs by Halsey, Zayn Malik, Sia, JRY, John Legend, Corrine Bailey Rae and Rita Ora what's not to love? Parts of the film include masquerade balls and vaginal balls, leg clamps and nipple clips, a shower foreplay scene that just would not work in real life, and the waaaay steamy elevator scene that I'm sure everyone in proximity would've heard (pls don't try this in real life). They also threw in a helicopter scene where Christian and Ros crash, but he seriously has less injuries than I would get from tripping at Second Falls at Morialta.
Overall, Fifty Shades Darker was somewhat toned down sex-wise from its predecessor, but turned up in terms of context, character history and thriller-like suspense. I'll give it a solid 3.5/5 and am quite intrigued for the next and final film of the series.
Thank you to Universal for inviting us to the premier and to GU Film House on Hindley Street for hosting such a large group of women (and the random man or two) on a very, very hot evening!
Header via Alexia Frangos.