|Directed by||:||James Foley||Produced by||:||Michael De Luca, E. L. James, Dana Brunetti, Marcus Viscidi||Based on||:||Fifty Shades Freed by E. L. James||Starring||:||Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Victor Rasuk, Jennifer Ehle, Marcia Gay Harden||Production company||:||Perfect World Pictures, Michael De Luca Productions, Trigger Street Productions||Distributed by||:||Universal Pictures|
Film Review: ‘Fifty Shades Freed’
Married life might change many people for the better, but it has a slightly dulling effect on this expensively appointed finale to E.L. James's erotic trilogy.
Every word is a safe one in “Fifty Shades Freed,” a Swarovski-dipped series closer that takes no chances, and spares no luxury expense, in giving Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey the dream wedding and nightmare honeymoon period their fans have been anticipating for years. Departing only incidentally from E.L. James’s trashy tome, and making up for any short cuts with extra set dressing, this is brochure cinema of the most profuse order, selling its audience more on a lifestyle than on any of the lives inside it. What began, however glossily, as an ambiguity-laced power struggle between two people from separate social and sexual worlds has devolved into a far less intriguing victory lap for an exquisite couple that wants, and can afford, most of the same things — at least until the pesky matter of baby-making gets in the way.
Even as it administered a patchouli-scented dose of fan service to James’s hungry readership, 2016’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” was a brittle, brisk surprise, refashioning the book’s lilac prose into a warped romantic comedy of personal boundaries, with S&M as the bargaining currency between Anastasia and Christian — played by Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan with a wary, push-pull dynamic. When director Sam Taylor-Johnson and writer Kelly Marcel made way, respectively, for James Foley and James’s husband Niall Leonard for “Fifty Shades Darker,” the result unsurprisingly hewed closer to the author’s original gushing vision, with sexual politics that were less thorny and, for all the steam generated on screen, more conservatively patriarchal.