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Fifty Shades Freed


​I recall a task students were asked to do when I was an undergraduate at Westminster Business School (the name sounds prestigious, but it is really quite a dump, and I think I chose it for geographical – and therefore financial – convenience). We were to read a chapter a week of the ‘core textbook’ of a module, and summarise it in a one-paragraph ‘synopsis’. If I recall, one or two of the ‘chapters’, gleaned as they were from different sources, already had executive summaries, making the task less laborious than it might have been.


I have never read any of the books that comprise the Fifty Shades series, and I like to think of the movies, having seen all three, as (sort of) executive summaries: a couple of hours each time in which to sit and watch proceedings and get enough understanding as to what goes on in the world of billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) without getting bogged down in every single little detail.


First of all, Dornan’s American accent has improved in Fifty Shades Freed since the bizarre warble in Fifty Shades of Grey. Either that or audiences have just gotten used to it. Having managed to miss Fifty Shades Darker, I saw it on DVD the night before seeing the third movie in the cinema. The movies are, by their own admission, ‘based on’ the books, and I have no idea what holes there are in the book’s plotlines. What I can say is that there are some gaping ones in the films, and some bizarre lines spoken without further context or development.


An architect, Gia Matteo (Arielle Kebbel), tells Mr Grey, “I love what you’re doing in Africa.” What is the young tycoon doing in Africa? Grey hires two agents to act as his wife’s bodyguards. One of them, Sawyer (Brant Daughterty), is arguably an even better looking man than he is. Given that Grey is obsessively jealous of any other man who even says ‘good morning’ to his beloved Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), why on earth would he have someone so photogenic watching over her?


The stupidity goes on. There’s a marriage proposal in a nightclub – quite impossible in real life. The floor would have too much spilled alcohol on it to be good for getting down on bended knee – and are these people really in a nightclub? How would one hear a marriage proposal in a nightclub? And why would anyone in their right mind choose a place like that to propose? Because, you know, nightclubs provide the perfect ambience for that sort of thing. Not. (Seriously. Can you imagine?)


Nobody at ‘SIP’, Anastasia’s workplace, has a computer, as far as I could tell, so when ‘Ana’ instructs a member of her team to “increase the font size by two points”, I was left bewildered as to how exactly she would be able to do that. Ana, possibly the only books editor in the universe who never even reads magazines when she’s at home, let alone manuscripts, can be quite impressive when she wants to be – in one scene, she announces to Sawyer that she is leaving for work in twenty minutes, having just got up. A shower, a change of clothes, an argument with Grey, makeup and hair done – in somewhat less than twenty. Movies, eh?


At least she’s with child for a bit longer than the five minutes most pregnant women are in films – right up until the credits start rolling, in fact, and a postscript scene (spoiler alert) rather boringly confirms the Greys stayed together after all. There are, as ever, sex scenes aplenty, but a kitchen table in the middle of the night is as audacious as the thrusting gets. Even then Grey is concerned about Ana’s moaning waking up their holiday home housemates. D-U-L-L. Or to put it another way, Grey by name, grey by nature.


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