I went to a Quaker meeting once as part of a religious studies course in college. Attending “Friends Gatherings,” as they’re called, never became a habit, but I remember my one visit as a pleasant, serene experience. Conversely, I have made a habit of attending opening screenings of the Fifty Shades film franchise despite the fact that each iteration leaves me feeling hopeless.
Last night I witnessed Fifty Shades Freed, the conclusion of the trilogy. The series is written by erotic Twilight fan fiction writer-turned-rich-person E L James, which is Spanish for “The James,” which is a river in Virginia into which I would like to fling every copy in existence.
Ugh I’m sorry. There is enough negativity in the world. It’s true that if you’re looking for a semi-taboo escapist moviegoing experience, FSF checks a lot of boxes. There are attractive naked people, sports cars, outfit changes and scattered one-liners. You want more boxes? Well, there’s a woman making deft career decisions, a shadowy villain, a courtroom and butt plugs. If you liked the other movies, you’ll like this one. If you haven’t seen it, spoilers ahead.
The movie opens at the wedding of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. They decide to leave soon after the first dance, but not before Ana inexplicably changes into a pantsuit. Is this typical?
They then take his — no, THEIR — private jet to Paris. Then to Greece or something. Christian adds another charm to her bracelet. The charms: a jet, the Eiffel Tower… are you enjoying all the meaning? They have missionary sex, which you might think is vanilla, but I think is just a nice way for these two people to enjoy each other’s bodies. Speaking of which, Jamie Dornan has a back-pack (a six-pack-looking structure on his back).
It does seem like a nice honeymoon, but things turn dark when we cut to an ominous figure breaking into a “SERVER ROOM” to plant a timed device. The tension heightens, I think. When Christian learns of the server room intruder, he asks, “Did he get any data?”
You’ve gotta protect your data.
Then apparently there was a sex scene because I wrote in my notebook “biceps, no peen.” A great way to feel comfortable in a soft core porn theater, by the way, is to vigorously scribble in a notebook in the dark.
What’s married life look like for these two? Suddenly, Anastasia Steele-ahem-Grey, has a house staff. But, being a normal person like you and me, she is uncomfortable with the concept. One evening, while cooking her own dinner thankyouverymuch she drops an offhand pregnancy comment and we quickly learn that Christian is not ready for kids yet. Another subtle plot device. I think he has some growing to do first or something like that, but he’s so mysterious it’s sometimes hard to tell what’s going on in that gorgeous head of his.
Later, there’s a 15-minute Audi commercial wherein Christian drives like a loon all over the countryside but still uses his turn signal before heading down a dirt road. And guess what? He bought her a house! And the architect who’s going to knock it down is a flirty minx named Gia Matteo who looks like an Ivanka Trump impersonator. Do you think she greeted Anastasia as warmly as she greeted Christian? She most certainly did not! There’s trouble brewing.
Anastasia soon whips her claws out and claims her man, thus earning the right to drive the Audi supercar. But unfortunately they’re now being followed by a shitty Dodge Durango. Mysterious. I’m not going to tell you if Ana and Christian get away but they do and she’s so revved up by the thrill of it that she climbs on top of him right there in the parking lot! SORDID. This lovemaking scene is nipple-free, per my notes.
Christian orders a background check on this Dodge-y character immediately. He wants to know “where he comes from, his shoe size — everything.” This guy knows how to ask the right questions, which is how he got to the top. (He also later sings “Maybe I’m Amazed” while playing the piano in Aspen. Where does it end with this guy? Jamie Dornan can actually carry a tune quite well, if you were wondering.)
One thing I love were all the authentic snippets of conversation that brought the world to life. At one point Ana goes to a bar with a friend (against Christian’s wishes) and when we cut to them leaving, the friend is in the middle of this sentence: “And you know me — I hate jellyfish.” Really painted a picture.
Best love scene: Anastasia awakens during the night after a nightmare about the Chateau Versailles. She heads into the kitchen to eat some ice cream. Christian then goes to the kitchen and opens the refrigerator when he hears her behind him. “I was looking for you!” he says. (In the fridge? Kinda dark…) Then she rubs ice cream on his nipples and the top of his pubic hair. There was plenty of high-definition close-up camera work and I will not be eating ice cream for at least a few days.
Later in the movie, Ana runs to the bathroom to vomit. I, a savvy viewer, know this to be a symptom of pregnancy. But I don’t care about that. What I care about is that she bolts into a stall, makes a retching noise, and then there is a plop. Not a sploosh, but a plop. We all know these sounds from our own lives. A plop is very different from a sploosh.
The Dodge returns. A tertiary character goes missing. Ana needs five million in cash, so she goes to the bank.
Teller: I can’t give you an amount that large.
Ana: But I need it.
Viewers beware: I tried this life hack. It didn’t work.
Anyway, I hope I didn’t spoil too much, but I can assure you everything gets tied up in a series of nice little bows. And now we are freed from this franchise. I’ll leave you with the last line of the movie:
“You’re topping from the bottom Mrs. Grey. But I can live with that.”