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Review: Beautiful Gowns & Boring Sex, Fifty Shades Freed Finally Releases Us

1.5 out of 5.

 

Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele in 50 Shades Freed

The era of Fifty Shades of Grey is over. Thank goodness.

The conversation around Fifty Shades is always complicated because of an understandable desire not to shame women for their kinks, or for being into the Christian/Ana relationship themselves, which I totally respect. I ship problematic things, and I’m certainly not going to pretend I don’t enjoy a shallow display of wealth and sex—I watched The Hills—but as I sat in the screening for Fifty Shades Freewith my friend, watching Christian and Ana go from fancy car, to fancy plane, to fancy yacht, to their basic European honeymoon, all I could think was, “This is like a bad episode of Sex and the City.”

Anastasia Grey, as she is gaslit into calling herself, is what people who have never watched Sex and the City think Carrie Bradshaw is like. Now, don’t me wrong; Carrie has many, many faults, but part of those faults is that, while she is sometimes written like a selfish idiot who is hyper-insecure and makes poor choices, she has a reality and existence outside of her relationships with men—something Ana doesn’t have. She has Kate, who is her best friend, but is also going to be her sister-in-law, because all roads lead to Grey.

Throughout the movie, I just sighed at all of Ana’s attempts to assert herself. It all reads like a child taunting their parent. She wants to take off her top on a nude beach. She wants to hang out with her friends after work. She wants to keep her last name for a bit. It all has to lead to Christian sulking about control issues. Even their conversation about kids is so over the top, especially because all it highlights is that these two have not been together long enough if they are married, and it is unclear whether Christian wants kids.

The biggest offender of this movie, beyond the toxic as hell masculinity, is that when it comes down to it, it’s just not sexy—and I wanted it to be. It’s two pretty people smashing, but it’s like watching paint dry, not to mention I’ve seen more dicks on Sex and the City. I understand that there are these wacky laws that make it really hard to market an NC-17 movie to a wider audience, but I truly do not see the point of adapting a piece of erotica to the screen if you can’t show penises. I truly don’t understand of a sex movie, aimed at women who are into men, spending more time showing us every contour of Ana’s breasts and only giving us butt shots and pelvic bone muscle from Christian.

Okay … positives. the soundtrack is pretty good and Dakota Johnson is always a standout in these movies, just because she manages to add some personality into the cardboard contraption that is Ana. That’s frustrating because the movie is filled with moments where you want to be like, “yes Ana!” but they don’t stick because by this point, even when she tells Christian off, you know that she’s just going to keep coming back to him. It’s clear that he doesn’t respect her, even though that’s in their vows, and their love is shallow because they don’t have personalities.

I will say that, at the screening, any time there was a moment where Ana was complimented as being smart and having earned her position, there was laughter. Any time there was a moment where Christian was called kind or good, there was snickering. No one believes the hype.

Ana has a job as the head fiction editor at the company her husband owns, and we see her do basically no work the entire time. Before she was promoted, her secretary job there was her first real writing job. She has one scene with Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) that’s really just a setup for Christian to get jealous and throw his dick around.

There’s also an entirely pointless plotline involving Jack Hyde (yeah, they did that name), which is exhausting only exists to ensure Christian and Ana stay a unit even when we, as the audience, know this isn’t working.

If you are a fan of this series, enjoy yourself. This a story that you can only enjoy if you have some attachment to the characters. If you don’t, then it’s a joyless activity where the only arousal you’ll get comes from Ana’s wardrobe porn throughout the film.

E.L. James, has successfully turned Twilight fanfiction into a mediocre “BDSM” series that is not only less sexy than Twilight (which, God, is that saying a lot), but also doubled down on everything that was bad about the original. Kudos.

(image: Universal Pictures)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.