Movie Review: 'Fifty Shades Freed' (2018)

Fifty Shades Freed Jamie Dornan Christian Grey Dakota Johnson Anastasia Steele Grey
The life of Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) only gets more complicated in “Fifty Shades Freed,” and the movie is kind enough to bring viewers along for the exotic, erotic ride. The third installment in the sexy trilogy brings the story of Anastasia Steele and her devoted beau Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) to a surprisingly sweet and wistful finish.

“Fifty Shades Freed” does not strike the identical sultry fervor of “Fifty Shades Darker,” which personally remains the best of the series. But as it proves, its notoriously raunchy side is a small facet of what makes the “Fifty Shades” franchise so intriguing. It is the characters, locations, sets, and the soundtrack, among other things.

In the third installment, Anastasia becomes Mrs. Grey. Getting married and merging their lives together is an experience that brings about its share of growing pains for the newlyweds. While dealing with those obstacles, the couple simultaneously deals with external struggles in the form of the ominous threat hinted at towards the end of “Fifty Shades Darker” bearing its teeth.

The relationship surrounding the physical one that is so often the buzz of “Fifty Shades” is also put into even better focus here. As one would likely guess, it is a complicated one made even more so as time has progressed. Ana makes many mistakes, something the movie does not spend a lot of time on her acknowledging with remorse.

Instead, it is Christian who remains at the fore of every criticism, some warranted and some not. That being said both characters grow up quite a bit here. While Christian is far from perfect, that does not make Ana a spotless protagonist, a truth which merits greater emphasis, although she remains likable throughout.

Director James Foley brings a sensational polish to the film that is further heightened by the breathtaking visuals captured by cinematographer John Schwartzman. Each movie has taken on different visual tones, and “Fifty Shades Freed” is the most vivid installment by far. While "Fifty Shades of Grey" featured a stark, grey tonality with striking crimson highlights, “Fifty Shades Darker” featured steely blues with colorful flourishes.

For “Fifty Shades Freed,” there is a verdant lightness present that is glossy and effervescent. Just as Christian and Ana’s worlds started off dreary when the story began, the cinematography has grown more alive, hence the possible uptick in the color palette.

Performance-wise, Dakota Johnson closes out the trilogy with another stellar turn as Anastasia Steele now Grey. This time around, Johnson gets to bring the role of the young woman, full circle. In “Fifty Shades Freed,” Johnson portrays a confident, vulnerable, smitten, and defiant, Ana. Throughout the entire trilogy, Johnson has brought strong dynamism to the role, and her performance in “Freed” brings that to the finish line.

Likewise, Jamie Dornan leaves the trilogy with his best foot forward. His performance features a calm center that stirs when necessary. It is the appropriate emotion to display at this point, as the quiet storm raging within Christian has been soothed thanks to the effect of Ana.

“Fifty Shades Freed” ends with a flourish of sentimentality that is surprisingly touching and well-earned. A franchise that rose to the occasion throughout its run, “Fifty Shades” ends as strongly as it began, which is saying something.

Rating: 7.5/10

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