According to Helen Brown of The Daily Telegraph, Josephine Hart's 1991 novel Damage was "only much darker and much more elegantly written" than Fifty Shades of Grey.
It was adapted into a film starring Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche, and now Netflix is adapting it into a four-part TV series,
with "disappointingly cringeworthy" consequences. Richard Armitage plays William, a brain surgeon who lives with his "sexy barrister wife" (Indira Varma) in a lovely home.
He "locks eyes" with his son's girlfriend Anna (Charlie Murphy) at a party, though, and "wordlessly inserts a rather small, grey cocktail olive into her open mouth."
As a result, "the romp begins." Although the two leads give "admirably committed performances," the series lacks the complexity of a US soap opera.
According to Barbara Ellen in The Observer, Anna and William's affair is meant to be passionate and tempestuous, yet it appears to be "a chore."
They grip each other "like erotic Lego" when they first meet "on the fabulous polished floor of a borrowed flat."
Later, "they sombrely copulate in toilets" and "mechanically" rut in alleyways. Even when they dabble in bondage, it's like watching "AI sex robots attempt to play strip Twister".