American films

Fifty Shades Freed film review: still all tease and no release in erotic trilogy finale

The third in a trilogy of so far disappointing instalments, Fifty Shades Freed might flash more skin but still fails to portray a convincing sadomasochistic relationship on screen

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 February, 2018, 2:29pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 February, 2018, 2:29pm

2/5 stars

The final chapter of E.L. James’ bestselling erotic trilogy sees domineering billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and his newly empowered “bottom” Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) tie the knot, only to be faced with more pressing issues than the restraints of married life when her creepy ex-boss resurfaces.

Fifty Shades Freed flashes a few inches more skin than previous instalments, but once again fails to portray a convincing sadomasochistic relationship on screen.

Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequel both shied away from the salacious content of their source material, presenting chaste and therefore redundant portrayals of BDSM. Fixating instead on Grey’s opulent lifestyle of fast cars and luxurious retreats, the series played up a different kind of fantasy, targeting a significantly younger audience than the original novels.

Film review: Fifty Shades Darker – second adaptation of E.L. James’ erotic novels as dull and cold as the first one

Now that Christian and Anastasia are married, director James Foley and screenwriter Neil Leonard seem emboldened to loosen – or should that be tighten? – their shackles, albeit tentatively. Shot back-to-back with Fifty Shades Darker, Fifty Shades Freed comes closer than ever to providing its audience with genuine titillation, despite Johnson and Dornan generating less sexual energy than Donald and Melania Trump.

When the action moves beyond the bedroom, or the “red room”, Anastasia must again endure the endless gaslighting and controlling behaviour of her deeply insecure husband. Christian goes so far as to assign Anastasia her own personal security detail, and her only pleasure comes from giving them the slip.

To her credit, Anastasia seems committed to testing Christian’s limits, if only so she can see her friends or go to work. Beyond his bottomless pockets and ripped torso, the appeal of Mr Grey remains as elusive as ever.

Fifty Shades Darker through Christian’s eyes is a poor rehash of the first book

As the story oscillates from clinical to creepy, it is easy to forget Anastasia’s ex-boss, the vengeful Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), and the nefarious scheme he has embarked on – and the film seems happy to do the same. Fifty Shades Freed offers attractive leads in various states of undress, against picturesque locations, but precious little else to entertain or arouse us.

By this point, anyone still expecting an honest portrayal of envelope-pushing sexuality must accept their role as a willing submissive in a relationship that has been all tease and no release since the very beginning.

Fifty Shades Freed opens on February 8

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