Fifty Shades Darker is more than a romance about two well-groomed people who engage in vanilla BDSM — it’s also a lifestyle fantasy. The rich, plush interiors and lacy lingerie are more interesting than anything its two leads do. There’s not a lot to love, but certainly much to laugh at.
One such laughable moment comes during one of the movie’s many bedroom scenes. Ever since the first movie, tortured billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) has forbidden doe-eyed publishing assistant Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), to touch the small scars that cover his chest, let alone inquire about their origins. Extended makeouts, grocery shopping, and night-terror-induced cuddling is fine, but Christian will not have his chest stroked, even when fully clothed.
So it’s supposed to very loving when he slides out of his shirt and hands Ana a tube of probably very expensive lipstick, and tells her to connect the dots. (He mumbles some awkward dialogue about this being some kind of road map, too.) As is every girl’s fantasy, Ana takes a perfectly good shade of deep red — let’s assume it’s Velvet Cherry, by Tom Ford — and plays along. Because this movie never met a visual metaphor it didn’t want to dive into headfirst, those dots connect not in a ugly zigzag, but into something resembling armor.
That night, the lovebirds go to a masquerade ball, full of backstabbing, bathroom confrontations, and cold shoulders. They ditch early, because Christian’s ex-lover (Kim Basinger) is lurking. Back at home, in the shower, Anna revisits the topic of Christian’s scars, again begging him to tell her more about his early life with his birth mother, who died of an overdose. He still declines, but in a show of tenderness, he lets her wash off the lipstick.
And this is where Fifty Shades Darker gives up reality — totally and completely — in favor of fantasy luxury: The lipstick, which glided on so easily and inexplicably, didn’t stain his tuxedo shirt. Not only that, but then it washes smoothly off Christian’s skin. The gall! The alternative facts! As someone who has spent many a night and morning using fistfuls of makeup wipes and witch hazel to scrub off a good matte lipstick, I clutched myself in disbelief. You need at least four products and a full night’s rest to strip your skin of even the most moisturizing of lipsticks, and I’ll not hear otherwise. Even rubbing off test swipes at Sephora takes more effort than Anastasia Steele puts forth in that shower. Christian Grey might have been able to get that makeup off easily, but Dornan was probably scrubbing those red marks off deep into the night. Calm isn’t really his forte, but maybe makeup removal is.