FIFTY SHADES FREED is without a doubt the best in a series of missteps for the FIFTY SHADES OF GREY saga. It thrives because it sells a fantasy that I’m sure many heterosexual women are willing to buy… myself included.

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY and the first sequel it produced, FIFTY SHADES DARKER, are not good films. The first film made a valiant effort to become a new and interesting story but failed when it returned to the weak source material. FIFTY SHADES DARKER, on the other hand, was shrouded in controversy amid rumors that Jamie Dornan attempted to get out of his contract. The film showed it. The whole film was just going through the motions. All this to say, FIFTY SHADES FREED had a difficult task ahead.

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FIFTY SHADES FREED, however, found a way to blend the best of both of these films. It sells shameless female heterosexual fantasy while being self-aware enough to accept that any possibility of greatness is in the rearview mirror. This is a low bar, especially for a review, but I believe my approach is more than warranted.

Always in the Right Place at the Right Time

The plot of FIFTY SHADES FREED is quite simple. Anastasia Steele, played by a winning Dakota Johnson, and Christian Grey, played by Jamie Dornan, are newly married. However, there is trouble in paradise. Anastasia and Christian have been receiving threatening messages from Anastasia’s old boss, Jack Hyde. The film details the beginning stages of their marriage as well as the continually more dangerous threats of Jack Hyde.

fifty shades freed

As you can tell from that description, this film is not complex. It is not concerned with complicated plotting or grandiose storylines. However, this allows for the best part of this movie: pure fantasy. Anastasia Steele is living her happily ever after. This is a world in which you go on a honeymoon all around the world. You have married a very attractive man. Maybe the attractive man gets frustrated with you occasionally, but he works it out by pleasuring you sexually… a lot of the time.

This is the kind of world where you received a promotion while you were away on your honeymoon. When the mood for sex strikes, you are always wearing the perfect lingerie. And when you and your husband fight, you are always in the right and still manage to put on an amazing outfit, get makeup done, have perfect hair, AND be out the door in 20 minutes.

Call all of this silly, but it is refreshing to watch a depiction of the perfect life. It is not realistic in the least. But I’ll be frank, watching FIFTY SHADES FREED, it makes you smile.

Christian Grey is… Funny?

Jamie Dornan is not a bad actor. I am sure of it. If anyone doubts that, watch the first episode of THE FALL on Netflix. I will wait.

Okay, you see what I mean. All that to say that some of the dramatic scenes from FIFTY SHADES DARKER and this film lack a bit of depth. I can’t blame him, however. Christian Grey is not a fully-realized character. While things have occurred to his character that should affect him, they seem to have been just added on. He is not the culmination of a lot of experiences. Christian Grey is a blank slate with experience added later that supposedly made him the man he is today. However, I discovered a secret gem while watching this film.

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Jamie Dornan is funny. In addition, Jamie Dornan can play Christian Grey as funny, and it’s hilarious. As time has passed, the idea that Christian Grey is a bad person has faded. Unlike the first film, where part of the allure allegedly came from how far he might go, this film depicts Christian Grey as… just an average Joe. He isn’t sure if he’s ready to have kids, so he has a few drinks. He deflects his feelings by talking about how well cooked the steak is. When Anastasia reminds him that “his son” could be “his daughter,” he rolls his eyes in comedic fashion.

While the acting might not be overly strong when it comes to the drama, Jamie Dornan’s comedic timing is amazing. Someone should have put him on SNL to promote this. It wouldn’t have hurt.

The “Climax” Came and then it Went

My main criticism for this film does happen to relate to the plot. Unfortunately, for a film about climaxing, the cinematic climax is too short and lacks stakes. Essentially, the stakes of this climax hinged upon whether we felt that our heroine was in danger.

fifty shades freed

Anastasia finds herself in a situation where she must lie to Christian. This is a great way to raise the stakes because the scene immediately proceeding her lying to him involves her threatening to leave him. If we, as the viewers, believed that Christian thought she was leaving him, then the stakes would have been there. Anastasia would have been left all alone with no one to help her.

However, in the film, Christian immediately knows that something is wrong and has police en route. According to the film, the police will be at Anastasia’s location in only 3 minutes! It would have been nice to have a bit more at stake, even a longer response time for the police. Without any stakes, there is no investment. And without investment, I start checking my watch.

FIFTY SHADES FREED is a Fitting End

FIFTY SHADES FREED is not a perfect movie. However, it paints a compelling picture of how great life could be. In a world and a cinematic landscape filled with “realistic” portrayals, sometimes it is nice to get some popcorn with a few friends and indulge in the fantasy that I would always have stockings on at just the right time. Goodbye, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, and thank you. It has definitely not always been perfect or appropriate or good, even. But it’s been a sexy journey with plenty of climaxes. What else could I have asked for?

One Comment

  1. […] these days, when asked about Dakota Johnson can pretty readily identify her as Anastasia of the 50 SHADES franchise. As a result, they might have a few preconceived notions about her given the content and quality of […]

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