Say what you will about Fifty Shades of Grey, the movie — but it was, at the very least, a more competently made endeavor than Fifty Shades of Grey, the book. Along with Dakota Johnson, who brought a disarming wit to a flat Mary Sue character, the credit for this belongs to director Sam Taylor-Johnson. Previously known for music-inspired projects such as the John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy, she managed to condense 500 pages of Cinderella capitalism and awkwardly rendered sex into two hours of solid Hollywood Romance Product. But, likely due at least in part to clashes with Fifty Shades author E.L. James, Taylor-Johnson has announced that she’s exiting the franchise.
Considering that Universal has already greenlighted adaptations of the final two books in the series, the obvious question is: Who will direct the next film, Fifty Shades Darker? Though, frankly, I’m doubtful that Taylor-Johnson’s replacement will be anyone to get excited about, here is an unnecessarily lengthy list of audacious and entirely unlikely suggestions. Only a few of them are American, because Americans rarely make great movies about sex.
The year’s best, most honest movie about sex (so far) is Akhavan’s debut feature, Appropriate Behavior. As a fellow millennial, I’d expect her to play up the aimless-20-something aspect of Anastasia Steele’s storyline. Oh, and something tells me that a woman who doesn’t hesitate to film herself on the toilet would never have excised James’ much-discussed tampon scene from the first Fifty Shades movie.