Fifty Shades Freed is not a sexy movie. James Foley’s adaptation of the final installment in E.L. James’ trilogy of novels does have at least four fully realized sex scenes, but that doesn’t make it sexy. That’s not to knock the franchise; what the Fifty Shades movies lack in the mood and atmosphere that stir lustful feelings, they more than make up for with cheese and seemingly intentional shoddy filmmaking and writing that elicits hysterical laughter. The only fantasies Fifty Shades Freed convincingly fulfills are those of boutique publishers who would like to believe that a debut novel can acquire 250,000 pre-orders and that a local glossy can employ upward of 50 full-time staffers, both of which occur in this film.
The film opens with close-ups of a different kind of bondage: marriage. We see hands buttoning the back of a dress, cufflinks fastening. The imagery here is obvious — and intentionally hilarious. Young lovers Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) make it through the ceremony without using their safe words, and while Anastasia is sitting around at the reception, surveying the guests, Christian approaches her and calls her Mrs. Grey. Of course, she took his name.
Anastasia’s proclivity for being dominated — in the office, home, bedroom, etc. — seems to stem not from her desires but from her utter lack of opinions or thoughts. With Christian and others telling her what to feel and do, she is freed from having to think about anything, ever, which is kind of a beautiful fantasy. Sex seems just another chore between her cups of chamomile, one she’d rather not dwell on for too long.
James FoleyDakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Eloise Mumford, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Victor Rasuk, Max Martini, Kim Basinger, Marcia Gay HardenNiall LeonardMichael de Luca, E.L. James, Dana Brunetti, Marcus ViscidiUniversal Pictures