June 21, 2013

Sam Taylor-Wood to direct 50 Shades of Grey Film


Make those curtains grey, Sam.

Yesterday it was announced that the artist formerly known as Sam Taylor-Wood, who now goes by her married name of Sam Johnson Wood (more on that later) will direct the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. The news was surprising not only because, for a book containing such trash, no one expected a Turner-Prize nominated artist to direct it, but also because now ST/JW, who directed 2009’s well-received Nowhere Boy, is involved, the film might actually be watchable.

That said, confirming her appointment as director, ST/JW issued a statement that was meant to reassure, but only troubled:

‘I am excited to be charged with the evolution of Fifty Shades of Grey from page to screen. For the legions of fans I want to say that I will honour the power of Erika’s book and the characters of Christian and Anastasia. They are under my skin too.’

Christian and Anastasia are characters? I thought they were creepy fanfic morph-beings, powered by cliché and as utterly hollow as a mixture of capitalism, consumerism and manipulative sex can be. But anyway.

In some ways, the pairing of ST/JW and 50 Shades makes complete sense. ST/JW’s work has continually explored the male and female body and sex and desire, and has aimed to display big emotions. And her repeated use of celebrities in her photographs shows an artist interested in the allure and contradictions of fame and celebrity, with no apparent cynicism attached. You can’t be cynical and direct this film.

Ever since the film was announced, a part of the internet has been writhing in speculation about the film: what will it look like, will it remain true to the book (very important, of course) and the biggest, most important question of them all – who is man and bad enough to play Christian Grey? (More on that later).

To throw something into that sizzling cesspit of inanity, below I examine some of  ST/JW’s past works to see whether we can use them to gauge anything about the film to come. As I haven’t actually read any of the books, it may be that I have nothing to go on. So please, bear with me.

 Fuck, Suck, Spank,Wank, 1997

OK, so this one’s easy.

 Maybe Christian is wearing this t-shirt when Anastasia first meets him.  It’s how she knows, he’s not like the other guys. It’s how she knows she’s no longer the innocent young woman she once was.

Pietà, 2001 (featuring Robert Downey Jr.)

I don’t think anything like this happens in the books (does it? Maybe this powerful Christian (geddit?) image of maternal love, faith and overwhelming grief is actually what really moved the general reader into inexplicable adoration?) but please let something similar happen in the film.  Please let it involve Robert Downey Jr.

Crying Men, 2004

These photos are unequivocal proof that Christian Grey will cry in the film. And not just cry, but spit tears in that angry manly fighty way that then turns into a great big bear hug of heaving shoulders, where his t-shirt gets so wet he just has to whip it off.  Ideally Mr Grey will do this while also lying in bed a la Robert Downey Junior and somehow, in an indescribable feat of masculinity, Grey will seem more of a man to Anastasia, and to us, for having cried.

Beckham sleeping, 2002

Mr Grey is finally asleep. Phew. Anastasia watches him sleeping. She gets kind of bored. She gets up and goes to civilise herself at London’s National Portrait Gallery (it’s an international film). In the gallery she finds a video of Mr Grey sleeping. She considers what it means to be so famous people want to watch you sleep. She thinks about frailty, fragility, infamy and beauty. She wonders about hero-worship. What does that really mean? Are the most powerful of men really the most vulnerable? A Bon Iver song begins tinkling in the background. She is overwhelmed with love for Christian Grey.

Escape Artist (Multicoloured), 2008

A woman floating in mid-air, held aloft only by balloons. How can it be? The balloons are sexual pleasure of course, which, when you’re Christian Grey, can make any woman float. Balloons will be used throughout the film to symbolise pleasure because the film can’t be too explicit. They will all be grey. When Christian gets really angry/turned on (are they the same?) he will pop one using his teeth.

Nowhere Boy, 2009

It was on the set of Nowhere Boy that STW met Aaron Johnson, after which she became SJW. Rumours are Mr Johnson Wood is going to play Christian Grey in the film. And. that. changes. everything. Think of the sexual tension! It’s going to be even stronger than what readers experienced while reading the book! It will almost be unbearably amazing, just like a night with Mr Grey himself!

Here’s a little something I found on Glamour magazine’s website. It’s a comment left under an article entitled ‘50 Shades of Grey Casting Suggestions’:

Aaron Johnson is the ONLY choice for Christian Grey. He has the looks, but more importantly, he has the acting skills and depth of character to play such a conflicted, yet sexy, alluring and playful part as Grey. Plus he’s young enough too!

So it’s definitely probably going to happen. Ladies, you heard it here first.



Zeljka Marosevic is the managing director of Melville House UK.