Released: 8th February 2018 (Australia)
Seen: 8th February 2018
Directed by: James Foley
Written by: Niall Leonard
Produced by: Universal Pictures
Starring: Dakota Johnson & Jamie Dornan
Last year I saw Fifty Shades Darker and turns out, I wasn’t a fan. I, in fact, opened that review with a little list, something that I wish to alter slightly to repeat here for full context.
- I have not read the books, nor do I ever intend to read them
- I have not seen the original film in this series, nor do I ever intend to watch it
- I am only watching this specific film because I’m an idiot who decided to start reviewing every movie that came out while this series was still in existence.
- I used a free ticket that I have earned with my local cinema in order to see this movie, this is my punishment for seeing 6 quality films which would earn me that free ticket
OK, let’s begin with a brief synopsis
Fifty Shades Freed is the story about how emotional abuse is actually romantic and if you find yourself (played by Dakota Johnson) in a marriage with a sadistic stalkerish man who decides when you do anything (Played by Jamie Dornan) that you should just accept it and surrender your entire personal identity to his sexual whims because that is what you are. You are a hole for him to insert his dick and if you dare to have anything remotely resembling a personality that’s going to have to be beaten out of you in the playroom. Oh, and if your violently abusive former boss (Played by Eric Johnson) assaults you in your home, you better expect to be punished for going out earlier that day by your emotionally abusive husband. But remember, that’s OK because it’s just emotional abuse and that’s absolutely fine. Also, there’s a neat soundtrack that has songs by Rita Ora and a former member of 1D, it’s fab.
You wanna guess what score this is getting at the end? Cos we all know, but let’s continue this farce for a minute.
In this film’s praises are the performances by Dakota Johnson, who is clearly better than this and will hopefully now be able to pretend this film didn’t happen. It’ll be like the porn you did before you got your big break, let’s just hope for her that this is the case. I also can’t lie, I have to admit I enjoyed the character of Hannah, who is Ana’s assistant. Yes, Ana’s assistant is named Hannah. Who said that E.L. James is an awful writer who is a blight on the art form and should do everyone the common decency of never typing so much as an email again? No one, no one has ever said that specific sentence. Also, there are some pretty shots that are wonderfully shot, the scene of the wedding at the beginning is absolutely beautifully shot. It’s so well shot that you can actually see the actors trying desperately not to look at each other for fear that they’ll realise they’re in the third movie of this godforsaken franchise.
So about that chemistry that actors who are playing romantic leads should have…. yeah, screw that, let’s just have them fuck a bunch of times and pretend like that’s a decent substitute for actual chemistry. I swear you could actually convince me that these two actors never met and that they did their entire scenes with body doubles and were just digitally put together in the final product and I would believe you. They are not there because they have good chemistry, they are there because Dakota Johnson is the only person who could somehow make this doormat of a character likeable and because Jamie Dornan looks nice without a shirt on.
I’d like to apologise for that last paragraph, Anastasia Ste-GREY is not a doormat. Doormats have a use.
This film seems to not be aware that these characters have been in a relationship now for quite some time, they are married after all so let’s just assume that it’s been a year (I’m guessing this timeline is more spelled out in the books but if you expect me to read those then clearly you literally started reading from this paragraph). How does she not know he owns a plane? Not even joking, the film opens and he brings her to his private plane and she asks “You own this”. Who here remembers that the last film had Grey flying a helicopter and crashing? I do, she should know, but of course, the film want’s to pretend she doesn’t because it spoils the sense of wonder they’re trying to create. Remember, you are meant to be Anastasia Stee-GREY, being whisked off her feet by a wealthy attractive man with a penchant for occasionally-regular bouts of emotional abuse and one case of literal sexual torture after you’ve been traumatized.
OH, RIGHT I FORGOT ABOUT THAT. OK, so the big plotline (Hehe, Plot, like this movie cares about plot) is about the former boss of Anastasia’s that tried to rape her in the last movie. Well, now apparently he’s out to make her pay because he didn’t get to have Grey’s life. No, literally, that’s his thing. So, anyway, in one particularly fun scene she goes out with a friend for drinks after Grey told her to come straight home, because it’s not like she’s an adult who can make her own decisions or associate with friends right? So, anyway, after her drinks with her friend she goes home and low and behold her old boss is there with a knife and attempts to abduct her. He fails, because of course he does, and Anastasia goes to bed after the cops deal with her. She wakes up to find a pissed off Grey who verbally berates her for going out to drink, takes her to the red room, binds her, uses a vibrator on her to torture her (And I absolutely consider this torture) and says something to the effect of “This is how you make me feel when you say one thing and do another”. Keep in mind, she’s just had a knife at her throat not 24 hours earlier and he is literally torturing her for going out for drinks. I may not be a BDSM expert, but that shit is not OK and I don’t care what kind of relationship you are in, that’s abuse.
All of it is abuse. All. Of. It. He verbally berates her at every chance, he treats her like a child, he literally tracks her movements as though she was his property. That’s how Grey sees her, as property. She’s his and that’s it, he might pretend that they’re equals but let’s be honest, he want’s property. That’s all this is about, he likes to buy his way into getting what he wants. He buys a house that Anastasia doesn’t know about until they’re there and she’s meant to be OK with it AND OK with the Ivanka-looking woman who is there to renovate while also flirting with Grey who does nothing to stop it. He doesn’t care, he’ll let Anastasia deal with it instead of being an actual loving husband and telling this woman to leave him alone.
Oh and let’s talk about those sex scenes. I’ve seen more romantic and intimate sex scenes in rape-revenge films, this was just absurd to the point of almost being comedic. I’m now fairly confident I could draw every inch of Dakota’s body cos it’s all on display but Jamie? His shirt’s off a lot, you might get an ass every now and then. The creepy way the camera treats her like a piece of meat but valiantly tries to keep his private parts hidden is a perfect metaphor for the characters in the movie. She’s there to be ogled, he’s there… because.
This movie is littered with problems from the incredibly anger-inducing to the annoying. I’m angered by the rampant sexist manner the main female character is treated, I’m annoyed by the fact that the crew couldn’t just hand her a working Ipad so when she scrolls up to read an article the image doesn’t actually scroll. Yeah, I spotted that problem. It’s early and it’ll amuse you a little but holy crap this shouldn’t be happening with a movie that has this kind of budget.
And the worst part of all this? This movie is going to make it’s money back. It will, the last two made over 100 million and I know this one will too which means we can look forward to seeing them adapt the Grey novels in the future (Which is the series where E.L. James decided to rewrite the first two books but from Grey’s POV… because, and I can’t say this often enough, E.L. James is one of the worst writers who has ever dared to put ink onto paper). We can look forward to them trying to recapture this by making other bad BDSM films that understand nothing of BDSM and just try once again to make abuse romantic.
If your partner ever treats you the way that Christian Grey treats Anastasia Steele, find a domestic abuse service and talk to them. This movie and book have tried to pass this off as romance. It’s not, it’s abuse and it’s wrong and no one should ever be in a relationship that even slightly resembles the one between these two cardboard cutout characters.