“Fifty Shades Freed”: A lot of bang, no climax

Illustration by Iain Duffus.

What is there to say about “Fifty Shades Freed” that hasn’t already been said about the maligned trilogy? The “Twilight” fan-fiction turned erotic novel series has been criticised for years for its poor storytelling and writing, misrepresentation of BDSM culture and its encouragement of harmful relationships through the guise of female wish-fulfilment.

As the final film adaptation of the series, “Freed” does little to counteract those criticisms, instead drudging through lazy pop music montages, laughable dialogue and a paper-thin plot that provides an anti-climatic conclusion to the series.

Anastasia Steele becomes Mrs. Grey as she and Christian marry at the beginning of the film, spending their honeymoon traveling the world. Their vacation is cut short as a man from the past tries to sabotage their marriage, but Anastasia and Christian seem to have their own marital problems that could cut their relationship short.

“Fifty Shades Freed” avoids a coherent narrative for most of its running time. The majority of the film shows an average newlywed life, injected with obnoxious montages backed with lavish scenery and pop music made for the soundtrack. It’s difficult to call this a movie, as it feels more like a series of softcore pornographic music videos punctuated by a poorly thought out plot.

The actors make the dramatic scenes worse. Though Dakota Johnson is really good at points, nailing casual conversations and flirty dialogue. When she has to start taking things seriously, the performance falls flat. It’s difficult to blame her, as most actors can’t perform with a block of wood.

In this case, Jamie Dornan is a thick, lifeless trunk of oak who can’t maintain a North American accent for too long.

The poor acting leads to poor chemistry, making the sex scenes themselves quite underwhelming in comparison to franchise’s reputation. While I fully admit this is an odd and shallow criticism, these scenes are so awkward and bland, they reflect how the filmmakers and studio do not care for this series and only make these films to take money from large audiences.

When the plot manages to cut its way into the neverending romantic montages, it’s boring at best and hilariously ridiculous at worst. The climax of the film involves a kidnapping that is so poorly set up, played out and resolved it feels like the filmmakers forgot they needed an ending and filmed one on the last day of production.

There’s even an attempt to paint Anastasia as gaining control and dominance in their relationship, but this thread is so inconsistent, as she is dominant in a few scenes, but submissive whenever the plot needs her to be. It’s not as insulting as it might sound, but it’s still disappointing that this route wasn’t taken.

That feeling of laziness and corporate pressure was something I noticed throughout the film. At a certain point, I realized the “Fifty Shades of Grey” series has gone from a self-insert fanfiction written by someone to express and indulge in their kinks, to a multi-million dollar franchise designed to sell as many soundtracks and tickets as humanly possible to a female audience.

I fully admit this series is not made for me. I’m not a fan of the franchise, or of the fantasies portrayed in the film. This isn’t to say movies should not indulge in these fantasies — audiences shouldn’t feel bad about wanting to live vicariously through these characters. My issue more comes from the lack of effort to make this series an enjoyable and interesting wish-fulfillment.

“Fifty Shades Freed” ends the series with a limp finale. The bland acting, cinematography and soundtrack plague every montage filled scene. It’s not quite the trainwreck I was expecting, but it’s still a troubling mess that needed serious revisions.

 


Sam Goodrich Staff Writer

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