Review: Dakota Johnson looks incredibly liberated in 'Fifty Shades Freed'


PHOTO: United International Pictures

Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) in “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a completely different person from the character who appears in “Fifty Shades Freed”. Gone are the constipated, helpless frowns of a damsel-in-distress. Instead, it looks like she’s slightly smirking in her scenes, as if she’s fully aware of the unbelievable situations she finds herself in in “Fifty Shades Freed”.

The movie is the final instalment in the “Fifty Shades” trilogy, based on the book of the same name. This erotic romance follows the stormy lives of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) as a newly married couple with very specific sexual fetishes, and the many obstacles that stand in their path to happiness. Needless to say, this R21 film features multiple scenes where they get to engage in the aforementioned erotic activities.

The biggest highlight of the film is how liberated Dakota Johnson looks in the film. In “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Fifty Shades Darker”, she was still keeping up this veneer of seriousness in an effort to maximise the angst and drama between the couple. However, she’s absolutely at ease in this film. It’s almost as if she’s finally come to terms with how extraordinary the premise of the series is, and decided to just have fun in this film. Just to be clear — her enjoyment is apparent in the narrative scenes in the film, rather than the erotic ones.

PHOTO: United International Pictures

Unfortunately, her poor co-star Jamie Dornan still takes the the role a little too seriously, and it doesn’t help that his character is written as a tightly wound lover. It’s rather entertaining to see the two extreme approaches that the actors take towards their characters, especially if you know that in real life, the two thespians don’t get along. Still, they manage to hide enough of their disdain for each other to portray a believable (if slightly overdramatic) romance.

PHOTO: United International Pictures

It’s clear that both actors have aged, even though the first film, “Fifty Shades of Grey”, came out just three years ago (2015). Dakota Johnson looks a little more haggard and gaunt, while Jamie Dornan appears to be larger in girth. This is particularly visible in the explicit scenes, especially since there are a lot more of them this time around. The scenes don’t push the envelope the way you’d expect them to (since this is the final movie of the trilogy), and feel like they’re softcore versions of what could have been.

Story-wise, the film does employ a fair bit of melodrama. If you sit back and analyse the issues that the two main characters face, they’re actually of the garden variety of relationship problems. They don’t face many problems that are significant enough to be brought to life on the silver screen, save for one very contrived situation. Then again, it’s not like audiences are watching “Fifty Shades Freed” for the story, are we?

Nevertheless, it’s a fun send-off for two characters that have found themselves in fairly controversial situations. You will probably laugh out loud at some of the scenes of the film, no matter how much of a diehard fan you may be. However, the film treats their relationship and story with a good amount of respect, which is probably what gives the film its watchability. If you’re a “Fifty Shades” fan, you won’t be disappointed.

Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? No.

Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? Yes.

Score: 3.1/5

Secret ending? No.

Running time: 105 minutes

“Fifty Shades Freed” is an erotic romance drama that’s based on the book of the same name. It is the third and final instalment in the “Fifty Shades” trilogy.

The film is directed by James Foley and written by Niall Leonard. It stars Dakota Johnson (Anastasia Steele), Jamie Dornan (Christian Grey), Eric Johnson (Jack Hyde), Luke Grimes (Elliot Grey), Eloise Mumford (Katherine Kavanagh), and Rita Ora (Mia Grey). It is rated R-21.

“Fifty Shades Freed” opened in cinemas:
– 8 February, 2018 (Singapore)
– 7 February, 2018 (Philippines)

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Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter, having written for “Lion Mums”, “Crimewatch”, “Incredible Tales”, and “Police & Thief”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.

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