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Film / 9½ Weeks

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9½ Weeks is a 1986 American erotic romantic drama film directed by Adrian Lyne, adapted from the 1978 memoir of the same name by Austrian-American author Ingeborg Day.

New York City art gallery employee Elizabeth McGraw (Kim Basinger) meets mysterious Wall Street broker John Gray (Mickey Rourke) and as they start dating, Elizabeth is increasingly subjected to John's various experimental sexual practices that push Elizabeth's boundaries. In doing so, their relationship becomes volatile and Elizabeth experiences a gradual downward spiral toward emotional breakdown.

The film spawned a direct-to-video sequel, Another 9½ Weeks in 1997, with Rourke returning, but with Angie Everhart as the female lead. A direct-to-video film, The First 9½ Weeks (1998) was billed as a "prequel," but it features no characters from the previous two films.

This film contains examples of:

  • Ambiguously Bi: Just why does John want Elizabeth to dress as a man for one of their encounters?
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Elizabeth can pass for a dashing gentleman in her disguise.
  • Batman Gambit: John leaves Elizabeth alone in his apartment to wait for his return, knowing that she would snoop through his belongings and that she couldn't help herself. So he uses this as an reason to "punish" her afterwards.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Depending on which way you look at it. On one hand, it seems John has lost Elizabeth forever and it’s implied he had come to genuinely care for her. On the other, Elizabeth gets out of an unstable relationship that was very unhealthy for her.
  • Book Ends: As in the beginning of the movie, Elizabeth is shown walking among the crowd, and this time she's crying, yet we feel she's a changed better person and she brought a bit of goodness in the world around, since in the previous scene even John talked of his real nature, stepping out of his pervert sensual pursuit.
  • Calling Your Orgasms: John tells Elizabeth "I'm coming" as he forces himself on her.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Elizabeth wears bright colors when she's not with John but only blacks, whites and greys when she's with him.
  • Destructive Romance: Elizabeth and John's relationship is not a healthy one and takes a toll on Elizabeth's mental stability in particular. John's BDSM-themed behavior and mind games border on or cross into physical and emotional abuse, as Elizabeth is clearly uncomfortable with and openly protests some aspects of the relationship. She becomes increasingly dependent on him for emotional stability despite him holding her at arm's length emotionally-speaking, while he begins controlling all aspects of her life. John treats it as a game, apparently oblivious until the very end to the fact his behavior is having a serious negative impact on Elizabeth. John finally admits he does truly care about Elizabeth, but his manipulative and cruel behavior has already prompted her to leave him.
  • Disguised in Drag: Elizabeth dresses up as a man as part of John's roleplaying fetish game.
  • Erotic Eating: The film is the modern Trope Codifier with its eating scene, which has become a Memetic Mutation that spawned many tributes and parodies (notably in Hot Shots!).
  • Exact Words: When Elizabeth mentions she would like to "be one of the guys," John arranges for her to crossdress as a man for a rendezvous.
  • Fauxshadowing: The riding crop that John tests so vigorously in the store seems destined for further use, especially after he ends the test by gently striking Elizabeth's lap, but that's the last we see of it in the finished film.note 
  • Fanservice:
    • John blindfolding Elizabeth their first time and teasing her with an ice cube.
    • Elizabeth touching herself while watching a projector.
    • John and Elizabeth feeding each other various foods erotically.
    • Elizabeth and John having sex in a clocktower.
    • Elizabeth and John having sex inside of a rain soaked alleyway.
    • Elizabeth's steamy striptease for John.
  • Fan Disservice: John's rape on Elizabeth after she snooped through his things.
  • Food Porn: The foods John picks out to feed Elizabeth are very delicious in close up shots.
  • Freedom from Choice: The film and book presents an erotic variation on Freedom From Choice: a career-woman who is successful and forceful in her professional life forfeits her sexual freedom to a man, and their relationship pushes the boundaries between what is "Safe, Sane, and Consensual" and what is abusive.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: John and Elizabeth end up picking a fight with two men who hurl a homophobic slur at them when they mistake them for a gay couple (Elizabeth was in a tuxedo). Elizabeth picks up a knife from one of the attackers and stabs one of them and both attackers flee. After the fight, John and Elizabeth have sex onsite.
  • Grunting Orgasm: John as he sexually assaults Elizabeth.
  • Homophobic Hate Crime: On leaving the establishment, two men hurl a homophobic slur when they mistake John and Elizabeth for a gay couple.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: John and Elizabeth go from being mugged to Elizabeth fighting them off to John and Elizabeth having sex onsite.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Elizabeth's discovery of a photo of John with another woman sends him into a rage, implying that he's hiding other affairs. As Elizabeth is leaving John at the end, he admits to her that he's had a lot of women, but says that she's special and begs her not to leave, but by then it's too late.
  • Lighter and Softer: Believe it or not, the film is this compared to the book, due to MPAA standards at the time. For example, the threesome with the prostitute comes near the end of the film and is a line Elizabeth won't cross, while this happens early on in the book. Also, the book has Elizabeth getting tied up, slapped and whipped, which John only occasionally threatens to do in the movie. It also ends with Elizabeth getting hospitalized due to the injuries she sustained from John's BSDM sessions, whereas in the movie she just walks out.
  • Love Martyr: Elizabeth for John. Subverted, as she gets fed up with his mind games and bizarre proclivities and leaves him in the end.
  • Masturbation Means Sexual Frustration: John gives Elizabeth a watch and tells her to think about him every day at noon, leading Elizabeth to masturbate at the appointed hour.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: The lead couple has sex pretty much anywhere: a table, an alley, a clocktower, a movie theater...
  • Mistaken for Gay: John and Elizabeth get mistaken for a gay couple as they kiss inside of a fancy restaurant while Elizabeth is crossdressing as a man for one of John's fetishes. Later the couple are attacked by a pair of men who hurl homophobic slurs at them and chase them into an alley.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Elizabeth sports a wet tank top and bares her breasts during the rainy alleyway sex scene. She also takes it all off during a striptease for John. Being portrayed by Kim Basinger helps.
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Elizabeth seems to use this on herself when John rapes her when he gets angry at her for snooping around in his belongings, because she continues the relationship without complaint. She ultimately has enough of his controlling kinkery and leaves, however.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: John pleads this to Elizabeth just after she walks out.
  • Properly Paranoid: John saying to Elizabeth that she wouldn't do a thing like snoop through his belongings out of curiosity. Knowing that she had already done that. Elizabeth is caught off guard by this.
  • Romantic Rain: John and Elizabeth at one point make love in a back alley in the rain.
  • Romantic Spoonfeeding: John and Elizabeth feed each other a variety of foods in front of an open refrigerator as foreplay.
  • Safe, Sane, and Consensual: John pretty much ignores this maxim, to the ultimate detriment of the relationship.
  • Sanity Slippage: Elizabeth experiences a gradual downward spiral toward an emotional breakdown.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Elizabeth reveals a wet tank-top prior to having sex with John in a rainy alleyway.
  • Shot in the Ass: Or rather "Stabbed in the Ass"; when John and Elizabeth are brawling with the two homophobic men, Elizabeth picks up a knife from one of the attackers and stabs one of them in the buttocks.
  • Smoking Hot Sex: Implied. John has to light one up as he watches Elizabeth perform a steamy striptease for him.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The famous scene involving food seems to be intended to be erotic, and it was certainly assumed to be so, parodies aside. Until you realize that the song playing in the scene is the novelty song "Bread and Butter" by The Newbeats, which ends up making the scene lighthearted and somewhat humorous in an otherwise downbeat film.
  • Stalker with a Crush: 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.
    • Elizabeth's heightened need for psychosexual stimulation drives her to stalk John to his office.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: John orders Elizabeth to cross-dress herself with a tuxedo for a rendezvous. This leads to two men hurling a homophobic slur at them when they mistake John and Elizabeth for a gay couple and a fight ensues.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: As John phones Elizabeth, he tells her that he trusts her enough to know that she would not go snooping through his belongings. Knowing somehow that she had already just done that. Elizabeth is frightened by this and John returns to his apartment to punish her.
  • A Threesome Is Hot: John thinks so, and tries to bring a female prostitute into one sexual encounter, but Elizabeth disagrees.
  • Time Title: Nine and a half weeks refers to the length of time Elizabeth and John's relationship lasts.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: The Trope Codifier with its scene of Elizabeth doing a striptease for John to Joe Cocker's cover of Randy Newman's song of the same name.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Elizabeth's reaction when John tells her to place her hands against a wall and to lift up her skirt so that he could spank her.