We are finally free from Fifty Shades of Grey

We are finally free from 'Fifty Shades of Grey'
Courtesy photo

Fifty Shades Freed

Rated R
Run-time: 105 minutes

This is my Fifty Shades of Grey fantasy: Anastasia Steele finally gets a restraining order against Christian Grey, writes a tell-all book about his bullying and intimidation, and becomes a #MeToo/#TimesUp heroine.

Mmm, sexy.

The only potentially genuine source of suspense and conflict in this, the — thank god — final chapter of the Fifty Shades of Abuse trilogy is this: "When will Ana leave this disgusting turdbucket of a man?" It was the question I kept asking myself as I endured this accidental horror movie. Even though I knew there was absolutely no chance of this happening, of course... because romance. Three movies in, and everyone involved is still trying to convince us that the relationship between the billionaire businessman in the business business — we still have no idea what he actually does — and the awkward, naive book editor — we still have no idea whether she is actually qualified to do this job — is just so dreamily dreamy, every woman's fantasy.

For most of the movie, Christian (Jamie Dornan) barely says anything to Ana (Dakota Johnson) that is not awful. He berates her, polices her clothing choices, orders her around, threatens her, makes demands, insults their wedding guests. Oh yes, they are now married: The movie opens with their wedding. Later, they argue over whether they're going to have kids, and whether it is reasonable for Ana to retain her "Steele" name at least at work. "That's how this works, remember?" Ana patiently tries to explain to Christian. "Talk, listen, work through stuff." Yeah, honey, you should've talked about this stuff and worked through it before you married him. I mean, you know what he's like.

Fuck this movie for making me blame the sure-to-be-a-victim. They can't make a fourth movie because it will inevitably have to include Christian murdering Ana in exactly the kind of sociopathic fit men like him inevitably end up throwing because she wore a skirt that was "too short" or some other garbage that he perceives as a threat to his ownership of her. Argh.

Christian is such an authoritarian bastard that it's impossible not to see him planning for his eventual defense at trial for Ana's murder in some of what he does here. When the couple meets with an architect (Arielle Kebbel) who will build them a new house, Christian totally defers to Ana: "It's up to my wife," what shape the house will take. "What she says goes." Later, I presume, the architect will be called to counter the evidence offered by Ana's best friend and prosecution witness, Kate (Eloise Mumford), who will testify about all the times (including some we see in the movie) when Ana was terrified about defying her husband's orders, such as to stay home and socialize with no one. "No, your honor," the architect will say, "I saw nothing in his behavior that suggested he didn't totally trust his wife."

On the other hand, Fifty Shades Freed (on bail awaiting trial?) is so ineptly made on a basic moviemaking level that it's often laugh-out-loud hilarious. The villain here, Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), Ana's former boss at the publishing company, is out for mustache-twirling revenge: He hates Ana and Christian for different reasons, one of which involves absurd coincidence. His revenge plot wouldn't work at all if Christian's crack security team didn't completely fall down on the job over and over again. Director James Foley deploys edits often without any appreciation of time or space or storytelling context. The script, by Niall Leonard (adapting E.L. James' novel) sees fit to include a recap of scenes from across the trilogy at the end of the film, because we need reminding that this is romantic and sexy honestly.

But probably the absolute hilarious worst is when Ana calls Christian "a man of honor." Oh, honey, he's really not.

About The Author

MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson launched her popular and respected FlickFilosopher.com in 1997, making it one of the longest-running film-criticism sites online. Her reviews have appeared a variety of US alt-weekly newspapers. Other credits: Indiewire, PBS’s Independent Lens blog, Film Threat, Film4.com. She is an executive...
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