The Fifty Shades era is over. Celebrate, huzzah! Billed as “mommy porn” and released each year on the Valentine’s Day weekend, these films have drawn large female audiences for their portrayal of the relationship between Anastasia Steele and her billionaire lover Christian Grey for years. Now that they are finally over, all I can ask is: was it worth it?
In the final installment, we saw Ana and Christian married, off on their honeymoon, and back taking up their glamorous lives in Seattle. The honeymoon montage was surprisingly sexless, as was much of the film for a supposedly sexually charged series. James Foley here seems to want to capture the glamour of the lives of the pair, in order to supplement the bare plot the book and script provided. Even when the film approached elements of the series that made it famous it sought to downplay or even humorize them for the audience.
I was pleasantly surprised by the film adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey” when it appeared on the scene in 2015. Anastasia seemed to have more personality than was implied by the reviews of the book, and my experience with the series source material, the Twilight Saga. After seeing “Darker” and “Freed” one might assume that change to her character was not the idea of author EL James and might have been a source of the reported production strife of the first film. The last two films rolled back some of the personality given to Ana and placed her back in the shoes of Bella Swan as a passive protagonist, a woman at the whims of the world and men around her.
The lack and even reversal of character growth seen by Ana, combined with the lackluster dialogue and humorous sex scenes, left this film, and frankly the series, in a position of taking itself too seriously. Had the actors and production team treated this as a cheap 90s Cinemax adaptation, at least we could say we got a quality B-movie or erotic thriller out of our time. As it is, all we got was regret of time best spent elsewhere.