by Sherry Lipp
What is the appeal of Ana Steele and Christian Grey, the passionate, but troubled, couple of the Fifty Shades series? I’m not a reader of the books, but I have seen all three films and I don’t get it. I’ve had fans of the books tell me there’s more to the relationship than what ends up on screen and I’ll just have to take their word for it. That, however, doesn’t mean anything for the three films that follow the book series. Movies have to stand on their own and these offer the most threadbare of stories. The third installment, Fifty Shades Freed, is the most lackluster of the already weak series.
This is the third, and hopefully final, film in the series. There are no more books at this point, but who knows if they will try to coax another film based on these characters, or another book out of EL James. This movie really should have been called Fifty Shades Bored. As simplistic as the first two films were, this one has even less going for it. On top of a nearly non-existent plot, there isn’t anything exciting in the way of sex, which I thought was what these stories were supposed to have going for them.
Now that Ana (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) are married, their bedroom activities aren’t as titillating. They just happen to be a couple who are into toys and bondage. I’m not complaining. I found the domineering aspect of their relationship in the earlier films disturbing. Their relationship still is troubling. Christian still wants to control everything Ana does. It left me wondering what he really has to offer other than a lavish lifestyle. Ana gives everything of herself and what does she get in return other than financial comfort?
At one point in the film, Christian is incensed that Ana hasn’t changed her work email address to Ana Grey from Ana Steele. He feels free to barge into her office while she’s in a meeting and demand to talk to her alone. When she says she doesn’t want her co-workers to think her success is due to her marriage to him (even though he actually owns the company), he tells her that she shouldn’t care what other people think. Okay, that’s good advice, but is he telling her to do this so she can do what she wants? No. He tells her that so she will do what he wants.
Maybe if the film had focused on some of these troubling aspects of their relationship there would have been some substance to the story. Instead they throw in an absolutely ridiculous revenge store revolving around Ana’s former boss Jack (Eric Johnson). Instead of actually working through their issues, Ana is placed in peril, which forces Christian to act in the way the audience hopes he will. He does the right thing in that moment, but what happens to this couple when real life sets in?
Fifty Shades Freed Images: Universal Pictures