9 1⁄2 Weeks is a 1986 American erotic romantic drama film directed by Adrian Lyne with a screenplay by Sarah Kernochan, Zalman King and Patricia Louisianna Knop. The film is based on the 1978 memoir of the same name by Austrian-American author Ingeborg Day. It stars Kim Basinger as Elizabeth McGraw and Mickey Rourke as John Gray. McGraw is a New York City art gallery employee who has a brief yet intense affair with a mysterious Wall Street broker. The film was completed in 1984, but did not get released until February 1986.
|9 1⁄2 Weeks|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Adrian Lyne|
|Based on||9 1⁄2 Weeks|
by Ingeborg Day
|Music by||Jack Nitzsche|
|Distributed by||MGM/UA Entertainment Co.|
|Box office||$100 million|
Considered too explicit by its American distributor, the film was heavily edited for release in the U.S., where it was a box office bomb, grossing only $6.7 million on a $17 million budget. It also received mixed reviews at the time of its release. However, it became a huge success internationally in its unedited version, particularly in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, making $100 million worldwide. It has also acquired a large fanbase on video and DVD and has developed a cult following.
The title of the film refers to the duration of a relationship between Wall Street arbitrageur John Gray and divorced SoHo art gallery employee Elizabeth McGraw in her early 30s. John initiates and controls the various experimental sexual practices of this volatile relationship to push Elizabeth's boundaries. In doing so, Elizabeth experiences a gradual downward spiral toward emotional breakdown.
Elizabeth first sees John in New York City at a Chinese grocer, and later at a street fair where she decides against buying an expensive scarf. John wins her heart when he eventually produces that scarf. They start dating, and Elizabeth is increasingly subjected to John's behavioral peculiarities; he blindfolds Elizabeth, who is at first reluctant to comply with his sexual demands, but eventually surrenders to them. He gives her an expensive gold watch, and instructs her to use it to think about him touching her every day at noon. She takes this imperative even further by masturbating at her workplace at the designated time.
Elizabeth wants to include John in her life and meet her friends, but he makes it clear he only wishes to see her in the evenings, and instructs her to see her friends in the daytime.
Elizabeth's confusion about John increases when he leaves her alone at his apartment. She examines his closet until she discovers a photograph of him with another woman, April Tover. John asks her if she went through his things, declaring that he will punish her. Their ensuing altercation escalates into sexual assault until she blissfully concedes to his struggle to overpower her. Their sexual intensity grows as they start having sex in public places.
Elizabeth's heightened need for psychosexual stimulation drives her to stalk John to his office. When they have lunch and she mentions she would like to "be one of the guys," he arranges for her to crossdress for a rendezvous. On leaving the establishment, two men hurl a homophobic slur when they mistake John and Elizabeth for a gay couple. A fight ensues. Elizabeth picks up a knife from one of the attackers and stabs one of them in the buttocks and both attackers flee. After the fight, Elizabeth reveals a wet tank-top and has sex onsite with John with intensely visceral passion. Following this encounter, John's sexual games acquire sadomasochistic elements.
Rather than satisfying or empowering Elizabeth, such experiences intensify her emotional vulnerability. While meeting at a hotel room, John blindfolds her. A prostitute enters the room, and starts caressing Elizabeth as John observes them. The prostitute removes Elizabeth's blindfold and starts working on John. Elizabeth violently intervenes, and flees the hotel, with John in pursuit. They run until they find themselves in an adult entertainment venue. Elizabeth enters a room where a group of men are watching a couple have sex. Elizabeth, visibly upset, notices John watching her, and she starts kissing the man next to her. This affects John, and he moves towards her. Moments later, John and Elizabeth gravitate towards each other, finding themselves interlocked in each other's seemingly inescapable embrace.
Elizabeth's exhibition with the artist Farnsworth finally happens, but it's clear she's coming apart. In a sad scene, Farnsworth, clearly uncomfortable at the party, watches Elizabeth hiding in a corner, crying. Elizabeth leaves the party and calls John.
The following morning, we see Elizabeth has spent the night at John's. She gets up, and slowly packs her belongings from his apartment. When John realizes she's leaving, he attempts to share with her details about his life. Elizabeth tells him that it is too late as she leaves the apartment. John begins his mental countdown from 50, hoping she will come back by the time he is finished.
The film was a significant departure from the much darker tone of the novel it was based upon. In 9½ Weeks: A Memoir of a Love Affair, John engages in criminal behaviour and even coerces Elizabeth into committing a violent mugging in an elevator. The book culminates in a quasi-rape scenario which leaves Elizabeth in mental anguish, and he takes her to a mental hospital–never to return to her again. The film ends on a sombre tone, and there is no mention of the psychiatric breakdown that John inflicted upon his lover.
The film was championed by some critics. Roger Ebert praised the film, giving it three and a half stars out of four, stating: "A lot of the success of 9 1⁄2 Weeks is because Rourke and Basinger make the characters and their relationship convincing." He further elaborated by saying that their relationship was believable, and unlike many other characters in other erotic films at that time, the characters in this movie are much more real and human.
Over time, some critics have warmed to the film and audiences gave it somewhat of a legacy thanks to its success in the rental market. It performed very well in Europe, particularly in Italy, France and also in Latin America. Its success in France was so strong that it played for five years at a Paris cinema, earning approximately $100 million. In São Paulo, Brazil, it played for 30 months in the cult movie house Cine Belas Artes from 1986 to 1989.
The film was nominated for three categories at the 1986 Golden Raspberry Awards, Worst Actress (Kim Basinger, who lost to Madonna for Shanghai Surprise), Worst Original Song ("I Do What I Do" by Jonathan Elias, John Taylor, Michael Des Barres, which lost to "Love or Money" from Under the Cherry Moon), and Worst Screenplay (Patricia Louisianna Knop, Zalman King, Sarah Kernochan, which lost to Howard the Duck). The film gained a huge following on home video, and regardless of its reception, both Basinger and Rourke became huge stars.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
The main single released from the 9 1⁄2 Weeks: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was "I Do What I Do", performed by Duran Duran bass guitarist John Taylor, giving his first solo singing performance during a hiatus in Duran Duran's career. The song reached #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #42 on the UK Singles Chart. Music for the score was composed by Taylor and Jonathan Elias. Original music for the movie was also written by Jack Nitzsche, but his compositions are not included on the soundtrack.
The soundtrack also included tracks from Luba, Bryan Ferry, Dalbello, Corey Hart, Joe Cocker You Can Leave Your Hat On, Devo, Eurythmics and Stewart Copeland. Winston Grennan's reggae "Savior" as well as Jean Michel Jarre's "Arpegiator", played during the sex scene on the stairs in the rain, were not included on the record.
Sequel and prequelEdit
A parody of the original film, 9 1⁄2 Ninjas!, was released in 1991.
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- 9 1⁄2 Weeks at Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-05-10.
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- "9 1/2 Weeks: the original Fifty Shades of Grey". thetelegraph.uk. February 13, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
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- "Sunmi explains she was inspired to write 'Heroine' after watching a movie". Allkpop.