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FIFTY SHADES FREED gets 4/10 Freed Willy

Directed by James Foley
Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Doran, Eric Johnson

4/10

At this stage of the game, you should know exactly what you are getting from a Fifty Shades film. Reams have been dedicated to the argument that Christian Grey as an abusive partner, and a similar amount has been sacrificed by fans idolising the bond of love between Christian and Ana. Hated by critics, but loved by its audience, Fifty Shades of Grey (and sequels) have certainly done well at the box office. Finally E.L. James’ ‘great’ love story, that’s titillated a million housewives in both novel and celluloid form, comes to a climax with Fifty Shades Freed.

After a tumultuous relationship Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) finally becomes “Ana” Grey. With a wedding ring popped on her finger in the very first scene of Fifty Shades Freed, Ana and Christian (Jamie Doran) commit to each other in a very public way. However their honeymoon is cut short when Ana’s ex-boss (and Christian’s dark reflection), Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), carries out a case of industrial espionage, stealing a number of personal files related to Christian’s past. Heading back home, the newly wed Greys must learn how to function in their changed personal and professional status, while at the same time dealing with a dangerous stalker.

At least Fifty Shades Freed is less offensive than its counterparts. After three films, the power differential between Christian and Ana has shifted to a more even keel, hence seeming less abusive. Mr Grey is still the immature emotional cripple that his childhood has made him, but Ana has at least learnt to muster the resources she has, and begins to assert power in her own way (her basic character arc throughout the series). The few scenes of her realising this, and fighting back, are probably the best of the film.

Other than that, it’s exactly what you would expect from a Fifty Shades film – beautiful people, boring sex, exotic locations (at least the interior architecture of them), fetishisation of luxury, and lightweight plot and character development. With that shift in power, Fifty Shades Freed, becomes strangely ordinary as a film, forced to rely on its erotic thriller elements to provide the body of the plot. As such the film is rather dull. Everything is obvious, and explored in the most superficial way imaginable. The slight storyline just doesn’t have enough connective tissue to justify the run-time.

Hence the final chapter in the series is a very vanilla take on a BDSM relationship (literally in one sequence involving icecream). Fifty Shades Freed lacks substance, reaching for superficial style as a replacement. Still, at this late stage fans are going to get what they desire out of the series, and haters… well, we’re just going to do what we do.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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