Magazine article Screen International

'Fifty Shades Freed': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Fifty Shades Freed': Review

Article excerpt

The series half-heartedly concludes - or does it? - with more of the same

Dir. James Foley. US. 2018. 105 min.

Less a film than a closing coda buffed up, blinged out and spread thin throughout a feature-length runtime, Fifty Shades Freed offers fans of the three-strong series a chance to send off their favourite characters with all the opulence and tastefully soft-core decadence they’ve come to expect from previous installments, gorging on the series’ luxurious embellishments while all but jettisoning any hint of narrative tension or engagement along the way. As the opening titles - which begin with the leads’ picture book marriage and then follows them on a European honeymoon straight out of a Pinterest vision board - make clear, the film knows exactly what its audience wants, and sets out to deliver it on every shallow front.

Softscore skin has always ranked second to wealth porn

As such, this Universal release never once finds solid footing as a satisfying narrative, but that will do little to deter the legions of fans who made the books a literary phenomenon and the previous films (Fifty Shades of Grey at $571m, Fifty Shades Darker at $381m) a nearly billion-dollar franchise. Opening worldwide ahead of the Valentine’s Day weekend, this third, and seemingly final, chapter will no doubt benefit from that base’s fervent support, while likely pulling in a slightly lighter box-office haul than either of its two predecessors.

Picking up shortly after the previous instalment, we return to Ana (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) in the throes of newfound nuptial bliss. While he’s still a broody, often one-note control freak and she occasionally processes her atypical domestic situation with wide-eyed remove, they are, for the most part, happily in love and filthy stinking rich. In keeping with the series’ wish-fulfillment prerogative, they remain as such from beginning to end; but for the occasional lashes of the whip, theirs would be a friction free relationship.

What begins as a kind of travelogue from Paris to the Cote d’Azur… continues as kind of travelogue from Aspen to Seattle to the couple’s new lakeside manor. Because Ana and Christian have already reached their happy equilibrium together, returning director James Foley and screenwriter Niall Leonard must mine exterior sources of dramatic strain. …

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