Frequently, a movie comes out that I will almost certainly hate, and because my editors like to punish me, they will ask me to go see it and write about my experiences. Because I like to please them, I say yes. It happens again and again, and while I know I am always free to say no, somehow I cannot bring myself to do it. What I am saying is that I think I might be in an intense sadomasochistic relationship with esquire dot com, which is a perfect thing to contemplate as I prepare for Fifty Shades Freed. I am the Dakota Johnson here, and I have accepted it.
Now, when I get one of these assignments, my goal is to get it over with. I get a ticket to a screening at a weird time of day when I know I won’t have anything else going on, I grab something comfortable to wear, and I hit the road. So I must inform you that as I approach the theater and catch my reflection in the front door, it is revealed to me that I am seeing Fifty Shades Freed in an old cardigan and sweatpants. They’re good sweatpants, mind you—Mack Weldon! The choice of finer podcasts everywhere!—but still. I am dressed in the accepted uniform of the American masturbator, at a Sunday 10:30 a.m. screening of a big dumb sex film, alone, and so that I do not disturb anyone with my note-taking, I am sitting in the very back row. To the untrained eye, I look like someone who is deserving of the pity and scorn I am absolutely ladling onto the dozen other people in the theater with me.Before we get into the film’s plot, which I promise you will not take long, we should address its title. The first movie in this trilogy was called Fifty Shades of Grey, which, although it is the literal definition of the dullest thing the human brain is capable of imagining, is something you might hear a person say. The second one was Fifty Shades Darker, which is also a series of words you might expect to see in a row, and a decent description of the events of the film, which I guess were more serious than the smooching and spanking of the first one. (I didn’t see Darker, but from what I gather, it was smooching, spanking, and danger.)
At last, the agonizing wait is over. The final installment in the Fifty Shades of Grey series has finally hit theaters. I’ve honestly been anticipating this moment ever since the credits rolled on Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed did not disappoint. The film trilogy’s finale is certainly climactic, delivering plenty of action and, of course, tons of hot sex between newlyweds Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan).
In between dramatic car chases and contentious meetings with their absurdly attractive model-turned-architect, the two manage to find plenty of time to get it on. Ana and Christian get intimate on their honeymoon, hook up in a car, and even experiment with ice cream as foreplay. Ironically — or perhaps as an intentional nod from the director — the spoonful of Ben & Jerry’s that Ana purposely drips on Christian’s bare chest happens to be vanilla. But arguably the best sex scene in the entire movie is actually the very first one. Warning: Major spoilers ahead. Are you ready for this?Fifty Shades Freed begins with a montage of Ana and Christian’s wedding, and then moves straight into their honeymoon. While in the French Riviera, they spend time off the coast of the Mediterranean, at what happens to be a topless beach. Ana wants to take off her bikini top, but Christian says no, because he’s worried about paparazzi snapping photos of her for the tabloids. In true Ana style, she does what she wants, anyway. And in true Christian style, he gets mad. Cut to the couple at their honeymoon suite, where Christian uses a serious pair of handcuffs to punish Ana for defying him.
After this clip ends, he pushes her onto the bed and they have sex. This encounter has all the classic Fifty Shades elements: domination, handcuffs, and a safe word. Yet Fifty Shades Freed kicks off with Ana seeming more like Christian’s equal than in the previous films. She pushes back by “forgetting” their safe word and goes against his wishes by taking her top off in the first place.
Despite this defiance, both the wedding and honeymoon scenes show the couple very much in love. They’re happily married and jetting off to beautiful locales. The movie’s initial sex scene works to establish the fact that Ana and Christian’s married sex life is still kinky and exciting, but it has also matured along with their relationship. Somehow, knowing this makes the hookup even hotter.
Watching an erotic movie in theaters is bound to be eventful, especially one that tends to go from steamy to laughable in 60 seconds or less. There will always be that audience member who snickers at the most immature moments, but overall, seeing Fifty Shades Freed for the first time with a large group makes the whole experience much more fun. The collective reactions to Ana and Christian’s acts were priceless moments that only made the film more memorable.
So far, critic and audience reviews have been mixed — which means headline writers everywhere are having a field day over pleasure and pain puns. But if you enjoyed the first two films in the franchise, you’ll likely find the conclusion satisfying. Many who went to see Fifty Shades Freed took to Twitter to share their thoughts.