M saga is a cinematic cold shower, writes Nicholas Barber. It barber shop sex often said that the brain is the most important erogenous zone. It’s often said, too, that there’s nothing sexier than a sense of humour.
I’m not sure whether either of these assertions has been scientifically proven but, if they have, it could explain why Fifty Shades Freed is about as arousing as staring at a mildewed patch of wallpaper. M bonkbusters, and its protagonists are two attractive young lovers who can’t keep their hands off each other, so it should be a turn-on, if nothing else. And yet Fifty Shades Freed is so unarousing that it could be used as therapy in a sex addiction clinic. The complete lack of intelligence and fun has got to be a factor. Their high-society wedding is dispensed with in a montage.
Then their luxury honeymoon in France is dispensed with in a montage. And then, well, everything else drifts by with so little structure or intrigue that it might as well be a montage, too. Still, Fifty Shades Freed isn’t wholly without incident. Every now and then, Ana goes to her office in a publishing firm, thus establishing that she is the only senior fiction editor in America who doesn’t have a single manuscript or proof copy at home. Charlotte storyline in an episode of Sex and the City.
Hyde’s hazily motivated attacks on Ana are quashed with laughable ease: Christian’s collection of riding crops would be more likely to do her an injury. But it’s still impossible to understand why Jack is treated so nonchalantly by the authorities. You could argue that none of this vacuousness matters, and that the film exists for its sex scenes. But these tend to be brief, discreet, waist-up interludes. Christian, it seems, is growing out of the whips and chains which obsessed him when the series began. He may be obnoxiously controlling in regards to every other aspect of Ana’s life, but he can’t be bothered with bondage.