'Fifty Shades Freed' review: Good riddance
If the Fifty Shades trilogy is a marriage, Sam Taylor-Johnson's Fifty Shades of Grey (2015), with its blunt introduction of characters who teeter towards danger all for the sake of sexual satisfaction, is the honeymoon, while Fifty Shades Darker (2017), which has the series spiral downwards the path treaded by artless soap operas, is the clincher that the relationship is simply hopeless and that the only way to enjoy it is to accept it for all its flaws and just wait for it to pass into obscurity.
Fifty Shades Freed, also directed by James Foley, is the last-ditch effort to save the marriage.
In Fifty Shades Freed, Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), the former fawning and sexually naïve intern, has just gotten married to Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), the inexplicably rich object of Anastasia's fawning who also teaches her in the ways of sadomasochism.
She goes through the motions of being the brand-new wife of a possessive billionaire, traveling to France for some luxurious sunbathing where her husband forbids her to bare her breasts, coming back from vacation to work where she discovers that she is promoted but is now required to use her husband's surname, and being followed day and night by bodyguards. At some point, the film attempts to polish its boorish pleasures with feminism, such as when Anastasia still chooses to bare her breasts in France, opts to be called Steele than Grey at work, or sneaks out to meet a dear friend after work. (LOOK: Anastasia Steele wears Monique Lhuillier to her wedding)
The film even seems to make sense in the way it presents Anastasia's growth as a character from being both literally and symbolically submissive to someone who is able to assert her will around her man. However, whatever more laudable endeavors the film has is swept under the rug of outright silliness and meandering prurience. So Fifty Shades Freed, like the two previous films, still suffers from pointlessness. It is fleeting entertainment, one that is worth a few chuckles but has no real substance.
Dull and predictable
At this point in the Fifty Shades series, there is really nothing much left to reveal about its characters.
All that's left for Freed to do is to prolong the story unnecessarily. The procedure is mostly the same. We have the characters talk or flirt, while a plot point unravels. In this case, it is the unresolved thread of Anastasia's former boss (Eric Johnson) wanting to get back at Christian for supposedly ruining his life. In between all the drab conversations and glossy showcase of unrealistic wealth and spending, Christian and Anastasia have sex. It becomes apparent that the main spectacle of Freed is the crazy lovemaking, which is unfortunately nothing remarkable either conceptually or cinematically.
The sex scenes lack tension or emotion.
Perhaps it is because they have been deprived of novelty or danger. They have become routine and unimaginative, almost laughably predictable in the film's conflict-and-reward setup. Now that the characters have been stripped of the very little gray areas that consumed them in the first two films, their numerous acts of lust and love have become tepid and dull. Easily, the spectacles here aren't spectacular at all. They're more like jokes in a sea of unconvincing seriousness.
Closing the series
The best thing about Freed is that it finally closes the series.
This relationship with EL James' lousy fiction that spans 3 whole films in a period of 3 years just needed to stop. When the end credits started rolling, the only emotion felt was relief, which is probably the same kind of relief most spouses feel after getting out of a particularly awful marriage. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass. Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.