There are films like Wonder Woman where the woman is celebrated by her strength, her tenacity. And other films where we pretend to respect women in their integrity, but the reality is quite different: that is where Fifty Shades Freed can be placed.
Do not get me wrong, I enjoyed watching and reading the story of Ana and Christian, but we quickly realize that ultimately it is an unhealthy pleasure.
This third film remains in the same line: unrealizable fantasies, misconceptions, and a tarnished image of women. I know, it seems very hard compared to the success of this saga. But let me explain the reasons for my disappointment.
A situation far from being idyllic
As we advance in the love story between this shy girl and this beautiful billionaire it seems like their relationship is becoming more and more complicit and that passion and love are stronger than the demons of the past. In fact, when you look at the very nature of their relationship, something is wrong. Love, one finds it, certainly, but an obsessive, possessive and addictive love. Passion, of course, it exists, but a passion that is sometimes closer to violence. And complicity? Apart from a few looks here and there, the two characters do not have the same desires, the same tastes, nor the same goals in live.
It’s almost as if this film highlights a toxic relationship as an ideal, and denigrates almost any other form of relationship calmer, but surely much more realistic and beautiful than this one. Falling in love with a stranger, living an incredible passion surrounded by an absolute wealth and being this “elected” that changes his bad behaviors seems to be in this trilogy the culmination of a relationship. In Freed, we reach the climax of this story. Ana and Christian get married, Ana has a great job, all her friends are together, Ana gets pregnant, Christian is not a sex addict anymore… In short the love story that ends with a happy ending.
But is it really the love story you want to have? Living in a relationship where everything is a source of conflict, or the slightest argument ends in chaos, and where advice is quickly transformed into orders? Do you really want to share the rest of your lives with the impression of being dominant or dominated? Where is the balance broken every moment and where sex is more important than friendship? What will happen when Ana and Christian find themselves alone, without drama, with the decadence of their magnificent bodies? What will happen when their children do not agree with them: will they stand united? What would happen if Christian loses all his money and Anna sees his man so elegant fall into decadence? Will their love be stronger than anything? I know, they are characters from a fantasy story, but what I’m getting at is that it’s not normal that we admire such a relationship when it is not admirable at all, apart from relying on image, domination and sex.
An enhancement of female submission
In this last film of the trilogy, we are given the impression that there is a reversal of power between Anna and Christian. Anna becomes more independent and less afraid to disobey Christian’s orders. She has a high position in the company in which she works and is more assertive towards people who do not respect her. But as I told you, all this is an illusion. First, can we really consider that it is a good thing that they no longer obey Christian’s orders? Is it really a step forward, even though from the beginning it should have been out of bounds?
By the way, can we really think that Ana has become that strong woman that we all dream of being? I do not believe it. Despite multiple attempts in this latest film to convince us that her success is in no way due to her husband, “Feed” fails to do so. We are told that Ana came to the position of Fiction Manager only because of her hard work. Nevertheless, her husband’s shadow hovers over her: he bought the company in which she works, he dismissed his boss who tried to sexually assault her without any impact on her career and clearly almost nobody rises from assistant to manager in a few months. The very fact that she allows herself to be more direct to people is based entirely on the fact that she now bears the name “Grey” which is worth something for other people. I’m not saying that this character, representative of some women, cannot be competent in her work and that she cannot have character. But the film never shows it as intrinsic to herself, but as a direct consequence of her husband’s social success.
Finally, something that saddens me a lot in this film is the image of the woman, apart from of Ana. All the other women who revolve around her are stereotypical and sometimes macho representations of what a woman really is. Either they are addict to their image, compulsive buyers, manipulators, seductresses, or naïves who believe in the lies of men. Even in terms of woman-woman relationships it’s depressing. Anna’s only friend is almost absent from her life, with a few appearances here and there. Anne’s mother never appears in this film, that of Christian hardly … In short, female relations are either almost absent or tumultuous. It’s as if all that matters in this last film is what Anna has become in contact with her husband, but in no way the other relationships she might have with women (or other men of course). It is distressing, because we must not forget that machismo is not only a matter of men, but that women are also directly concerned. Not only as victims, but as responsible for the non-advanced situation of women in the world.
You may find that I am very hard on this film and that I find too much symbolism that does not exist. You may think that it’s just a movie and why argue about something that does not exist. But we must not forget the incredible success of the movies and books and this is simply proof that the ideal of the current couple is one of an abusive relationship based on wind. We do not glorify real relationships, we only glorify unhealthy fantasies. I’m no better than many who loved this story. I also devoured the books and fantasized in front of the movies. I also dreamed of having this physical fusion and this excitement every time the love of my life puts its eyes on me. But when I realized that these thoughts were toxic and distorted, I could not help telling the truth about what the story of Ana and Christian really conveys to the world.