FIFTY SHADES FREED is the third film of the FIFTY SHADES franchise with the first two FIFTY SHADES OF GREY and FIFTY SHADES DARKER winning raspberry awards for worst film and worst acting for its actors. FIFTY SHADES is likely the worst reviewed film franchise ever though the films have been Universal tons of cash.
The film clearly aims at a female audience. Imagine the fantasy – Marriage to a wealthy husband with the perfect body, romantic wedding vows, a glamorous lifestyle and most of all, great sexy with S&M thrown in for good measure.
FIFTY SHADES FREED opens with what looks like the perfect wedding. It is the marriage of Ana (Dakota Fanning) and billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). But the matrimonial noon is tested when Ana insists on ‘not being Mrs. Grey’. She insists on keeping her maiden name, her job and dispenses with a wife’s household duties. All this results in sexual punishment dished out by her husband. Ana loves it and keeps going on till she eventually gets pregnant because she missed her shots. The marriage is on the rocks. The plot also invokes Ana’s ex-boss, Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson) stalking her and wanting to punish her for what she has done to him, which is explained later on in the film. That is pretty much the film. Sex, sex, sex, get Ana’s stalker and would-be killer then the end.
FREED can stand on its own with audiences unfamiliar with the stories of the other two films. Ana met Grey in the first film engaging in S&M sex. The second film shows her being promised marriage by Grey while having trouble at work with her boss who turns up as the villain in FREED.
The sexual scenes are interesting but goes boring really quickly despite the two perfect bodies of the actors. For what the script provides, Dakota Fanning does quite a good job at her performance, making the audience care for her despite her gong against all the hubby’s wishes. Marcia Gay Harden has a small role as Christian’s adoptive mother, but her role is simply awful, involving her to hug the gorgeous Christian at one point in the film. She looks as if she got a sexual turn on in the film when she holds on to him.
A few things that Universal Pictures got right with this sequel. The budget is kept the same as the second film at $55 million with a shorter running length. It is clear that the movie should still make money though expectedly less that the $580 million for the first and $300 million for the second. At the film’s promo screening, one self touted critic remarked loudly that the film is shit and the editing is shit. It is easy to condemn a film without giving clear examples. The editing is actually half decent, especially the S&M scenes, keeping it fairly decent considering the film’s content. Th car chases are also well cut with ok continuity.
Having not seen the first two films, I actually enjoyed the tackiness of the film’s first 20 minutes, to see how much rubbish the audience can take in. But tackiness or not, the film keeps repeating itself (example: the story’s silly excuses for Ana’s behaviour to keep getting sexually punished.) The S&M are not really imaginative. I am are everyone has seen a vibrating, dildos or handcuffs. The film then resorts to ice-cream being slid on the naked bodies. In Mike Leigh’s LIFE IS SWEET for example, he had a sexual bathroom scene with his two actors covered in chocolate. The film is noticeably drug free. I am not advocating drug use, but this really stretches the film’s credibility.
James Foley takes over the director’s reins. Foley has directed decent films in the past, the most notable being Mamet’s GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. FIFTY SHADES FREED is obviously not one of them. Foley goes for empty glossiness. Though the film has a slick look, there is no substance and the polished exterior fades fast.