Fifty Shades Freed (2018)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Fifty Shades Freed</strong> (2018)

(On Cable TV, November 2018) I suppose we should be begrudgingly impressed by the persistence of the Fifty Shades series, which managed to complete its trilogy even though the novelty effect of the first instalment had considerably faded by then. But then again: Fifty Shades Freed was a cheap movie by many standards at $55M, with a substantial guaranteed return-on-investment (as proven by 370M$ box-office) by being aimed at a different audience quadrant than most Hollywood blockbusters. All of this, however, doesn’t negate the overwhelming dullness of the result for anyone who falls outside the target audience: never mind the sex, the core of the series has always been its wish-fulfillment fantasy best suited to movie-of-the-week status. This third instalment keeps the BDSM leashed and redundant in favour of playing up more conventional thriller tropes. There are also more familiar romantic dilemmas at play (Jealousy! Infidelity! Baby!), but none of them exactly help the film get out of its doldrums. Fifty Shades Freed is clumsy most of the time, which is probably for the best because otherwise it would be infuriating: its equation between happiness and wealth is condescending to a rare degree even by wish-fulfillment standards, and it’s not as if the dialogue or plotting (or acting, Dakota Johnson aside) are particularly refined. I wonder how this film will play in a decade or two. I suspect future reviewers won’t have kind things to say about our era as an enabler for that kind of film.

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