February 23, 2018

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Pulling the shades

It's about time Anastasia and Christian hang up the handcuffs for good, say Free Press critics roundtable

At last, we are freed of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.

Fifty Shades Freed — the third and final film based on E L James’ bestselling books — finds Anastasia Grey, née Steele (played Dakota Johnson) married to sulky billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan).

But it’s not all champagne, fast cars and lukewarm sex for our rich, unhappy couple: Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), Ana’s abusive former boss from Fifty Shades Darker, has made bail — and he’s out for blood.

Free Press Arts & Life writers/apparent masochists Erin Lebar, Jill Wilson and Jen Zoratti went to go see this fresh hell so that you don’t have to. They’d warn you about spoilers, but that would imply this movie had a plot.

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At last, we are freed of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.

Fifty Shades Freed — the third and final film based on E L James’ bestselling books — finds Anastasia Grey, née Steele (played Dakota Johnson) married to sulky billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan).

But it’s not all champagne, fast cars and lukewarm sex for our rich, unhappy couple: Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), Ana’s abusive former boss from Fifty Shades Darker, has made bail — and he’s out for blood.

Free Press Arts & Life writers/apparent masochists Erin Lebar, Jill Wilson and Jen Zoratti went to go see this fresh hell so that you don’t have to. They’d warn you about spoilers, but that would imply this movie had a plot.

There is no buildup to the much-hyped wedding between Anastasia Steele (Johnson) and Christopher Grey (Jamie Dornan). The nuptials take place right at the beginning, and are hardly referred to afterwards. (Universal Pictures)</p>

There is no buildup to the much-hyped wedding between Anastasia Steele (Johnson) and Christopher Grey (Jamie Dornan). The nuptials take place right at the beginning, and are hardly referred to afterwards. (Universal Pictures)

Jill Wilson

So, this was somehow so much more boring than the other two.

Jen Zoratti

There was also, like, zero sex in this movie.

Erin Lebar

Very little exciting sex, anyway. It was 90 per cent missionary, 10 per cent annoying.

Jill

Three per cent sticky ice cream — yecch. All I could think of was, ‘Ugh, you have to have a shower now.’ (Note: There’s an "erotic" scene involving a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.)

Erin

That’s expensive ice cream.

Jen

I was dying to know what flavour it was.

Erin

It looked like Half Baked to me.

Jen

How fitting — so was the plot of this movie.

Jill

See, again, when you are focusing more on the flavour of the ice cream, that is a problem. The most exciting part of that movie was when I discovered two popcorn kernels in the cowl neck of my sweater.

Jen

Speaking of clothes, can we talk about Christian’s weird Sex Jeans? He was wearing them in one Red Room scene, and then she laid them out for him another time.

Jill

I wonder if he has some sort of childhood connection with jeans and pain.

Erin

Well, maybe that’s a plot point they could have explored in this movie with no plot.

Jen

They were quite worn out in the crotch.

Erin

They were distressed.

Jill

I was distressed.

Jen

That entire movie was mostly a tedious music video.

Jill

The music is so inappropriate — the tone of it is unfitting.

Erin

On a technical level, it was SO LOUD compared to the dialogue.

Dakota Johnson returns as Anastasia Steele. (Universal Pictures)</p>

Dakota Johnson returns as Anastasia Steele. (Universal Pictures)

Jen

OK, so, we kick off with their wedding. Ana’s dress was, objectively, phenomenal. But really? That’s it? I was expecting some wedding porn with my softcore porn.

Jill

I’m so anti-wedding in real life, but in movies I like to see the lead-up and seeing them planning it.

Erin

That’s what I thought this movie was going to be about.

Jen

No, this is a movie about pregnancy and how Christian is so insecure that he’s jealous of a fetus.

Jill

I would like to know how Red Room torture works when you’re pregnant.

Erin

Only butt play. She opened that box, literally.

Jen

Also, she had a truly terrible bodyguard. You are bad at your job, Sawyer. He kept putting her directly into harm’s way.

Erin

In every scene he was like, ‘Where’d she go!?’

Jen

YOU HAVE ONE JOB, SAWYER.

Jill

There’s so many weird trailing things. The architect hired to redesign their house who is attracted to Christian? That goes nowhere.

Erin

You never hear about the house again.

Jen

And a whole scene dedicated to Anastasia’s friend Kate’s engagement — who cares?

Jill

When they were at the mountain house, I was like, ‘Who are these people?’ They are very bad at call-backs to the previous movies, which I have seen.

Erin

The lady driving the car, Jill leaned over to me and was like ‘Who is that?’ It’s Liz from the office! (Note: a co-worker of Ana’s is blackmailed into working for Jack.)

Jill

That disguise really fooled me.

Jen

I suspected Liz was shady and in cahoots with Jack.

Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey. (Universal Pictures)</p>

Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey. (Universal Pictures)

Jill

Oh, and the driving: she’s secretly always been a NASCAR driver? I know for a fact she drove a Beetle in the book.

Erin

I feel like it was a non-subtle way to say, ‘Now that they’re married, he can relinquish some control!’

Jen

Except, I like how near the end she’s literally lying in a hospital bed with a bruised face and is still the one reassuring him. He’s so insecure, which is deeply unsexy.

Jill

Let’s jump back to the beginning, which was so problematic in the same way the other two have been where his control issues are creepy and unforgivable. Her not changing her name on her email and him not "allowing" her to take off her bikini top on a European beach — it’s just so unsexy. I don’t understand the appeal of it.

Jen

Or when she’s out with her friend Kate, and her friend says she never sees her anymore. And instead of expressing concern, Kate just says, "Oh you’re so married," and "It suits you!"

Erin

I was really offended by that, actually.

Jill

And Ana’s genuine concern that she was going to be in "so much trouble" with Christian? That’s abusive husband behaviour. I’ve had friends whose husbands didn’t "allow" them to go out with their friends, and it was not a good scene. It’s not something you brush off.

Jen

And when Christian storms down to Ana’s office and INTERRUPTS HER MEETING to yell at her, all because she hadn’t changed her work email address to her married name? Come on.

Jill

Ana does call it out when he takes her into the Red Room and she says that it’s clear he’s trying to punish her. But that doesn’t make it any less problematic to me. Why are we watching this and making a mainstream romance out of it?

Jen

I think because there’s actually dearth of sex in these movies, we don’t explore that power dynamic with sex. We explore it in their daily, real life.

Jill

I don’t know a lot about BDSM, but it’s not about real punishment. There’s no anger involved in it. His is clearly retribution for her being a bad girl — not a "bad girl." He legitimately felt he was wronged because she "disobeyed" him.

Erin

I took real issue with the fact they seem to know so little about each other. Like, "Hey Christian, we’re already married, but do you want to have kids?" Is that not a discussion you have beforehand? How are you surprised he owns a plane? I see no romance in that. And the dialogue is just exhaustingly bad.

Jill

There’s no wit. What they consider banter...

Jen

These movies are supposed to be about fantasy and kink and sexy sex but this instalment read weirdly puritanical to me, what with the emphasis on marriage and having a nuclear family, etc.

Erin

Have you seen that level of freak-out over a married pregnancy? I haven’t seen a reaction like that since Teen Mom. I like when she told him to grow the f—- up in her change room...

Jen

Although, who gets dressed in this order…

Jill

... I was just about to say!

Jen

...underwear, stockings, BOOTS, dress?

Erin

No wieners again, but they got pretty close.

Jill

The strategically placed leg she had when they were doing the ice cream thing.

Erin

Foiled again!

Jen

All we got to see was his ice cream-smeared mons pubis. Mmmmmm sexy.

Erin

And she’s really doing that! I hope she got paid a lot of money to lick ice cream out of his pubic hair.

Jill

See, and again, you should be swept away — not thinking about how they’ll have to clean up.

Eric Johnson as Jack Hyde (Universal Pictures)</p>

Eric Johnson as Jack Hyde (Universal Pictures)

Jen

I’m still not over how terrible her bodyguard was.

Erin

What happened to the woman bodyguard? She only shows up once to punch Jack in the face when he’s attempting to kidnap Ana, even though she was clearly superior. Neither of them had handcuffs, though.

Jill

Don’t need ‘em! Ana has a room full of them! I also loved how they had to hire a private investigator to find out Jack went to Princeton and graduated summa cum laude.

Jen and Erin in unison, quoting Christian: "Smart guy."

Erin

That was definitely the worst of the three, by far.

Jill

I find it hard to imagine that even fans of the books are going to go to this and be satisfied by it.

Jen

Hope they like montages!

Erin

Starwipe, Geneva, Starwipe, Paris, Starwipe, three days ago, Starwipe, champagne on the plane.

Jen

The final montage was my favourite, when she’s fondly watching him play piano and reminiscing about their relationship —

Jill

— with him on the pommel horse! (Note: It was a call back to the one good scene from 50 Shades Darker, in which Christian shows off his improbable tricep strength.)

Jen

I know! It was like, couple shot, couple shot, couple shot, pommel horse.

Jill

Even poor weepy Jack…

Erin

... Pink-Eye Jack.

Jill

It’s all so expository. When he tells Christian ‘You owe me a life,’ we all know exactly what he means — Christian got the family Jack wanted when they were in foster care, and yet she has to announce it.

Erin

And then when she shows him the picture and he’s like, ‘That’s Jack and that’s me,’ and she asks, ‘You were in the same foster home?’ and he was like ‘We must have been!"

Jen

Even though he was like —

Erin

— 11 years old in that picture.

Jill

And visiting his mom’s grave! He lays down some flowers and that’s it, end scene.

Jen

This movie. Woof.

Erin

Woof indeed.

Jill

Woof indeed.

Read more by Erin Lebar, Jill Wilson and Jen Zoratti.

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