Saturday, February 27, 2021

Fifty Shades Freed: Finally free of this!

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Three years ago, my best friend Mary Estrella called me on my cell, shrieking that the “Fifty Shades” trilogy of E.L. James will finally grace (or disgrace) the silver screen. She pulled all the stops to get me to agree to watch the first movie with her.

I resisted, vehemently. I was adamant, resolute, even obstinate.

She didn’t budge.

She pulled the friendship card.

I relented.

She won.

I was given the dubious honor of being given the books and I read them all in one night. It was single-handedly the worst erotica I’ve ever read. I brought the books with me as I headed to the mall and found myself laughing out loud in Starbucks as I continued to read them.

I never again want to hear or read the phrase “inner goddess.” What an awful line to put in a supposedly erotic novel. The books were trash. They weren’t even worth the paper they were printed on. Oh, those poor trees.

However, I had such a great time reading it because it was so bad, it was good!

Fast forward to February 2016: I found myself inside the freezing cinemas of Glorietta IV watching “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

The first movie wasn’t half bad. It had great aesthetics and a wonderful soundtrack. That’s all I will say.

However, Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson’s acting were both wooden and hammy (I never knew wooden and hammy can actually co-exist in one film) that I’ve seen less wood in forests and less ham in a slaughterhouse. Not even Marcia Gay Harden could save the film.

A year later, I found myself inside the cinemas of Glorietta IV, this time alone, to watch “Fifty Shades Darker.” I know, I never learn. You might be asking where my best friend Mary was. She couldn’t come, pleading geographical inconvenience and an impossibly busy schedule.

“Fifty Shades Darker” was about Anastasia Steele breaking up with Christian Grey after realizing that caresses from a cat o’nine tails doesn’t exactly get her moist in the crevices nor does it get her off. She eventually reconciles with obscenely rich and offensively gorgeous Christian Grey, but it wasn’t without antagonists like Elena Lincoln (portrayed by the criminally underutilized Kim Basinger). That movie ended with a marriage proposal.

A few weeks back, I decided to watch “Fifty Shades Freed” to finally put an end to this trilogy. I called my best friend for good measure. Unfortunately, since this last installment of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy was released in January, she was celebrating her birthday and once again couldn’t join me.

I am seriously rethinking our friendship.

“Fifty Shades Freed” was all about Ana and Christian adjusting to married life, somewhere between raunchy sex and a baby. Ana got herself knocked up, much to Christian’s displeasure. I mean come on, you have raunchy sex day in and day out and your wife gets pregnant and you’re surprised?

The movie was overly simplistic and painful to watch. Their acting had the unyielding stiffness of an industrial lamp post. You’d think that after two films, they’d finally establish some chemistry.

To be perfectly honest, the movies, if disassociated from the books, weren’t half bad. However, it wasn’t that good either. It was simply somewhat a satisfying way to kill an hour and a half, for as long as you don’t think too much about it.

The genius of E.L. James lies in the fact that she wrote erotica for the uninitiated. For all that her writing leaves a lot to be desired, she either was a genius for tapping an overlooked market of women who have yet to read erotica by adding a darkly desirable version of a rich and gorgeous Prince Charming sweeping a doe-eyed ingenue off her feet.

Of course James had to make her male protagonist gorgeous. Any man with lesser financial means and physical aesthetics would most likely get a face-full of mace from the women upon whom he may attempt such unorthodox sexual acts. A lesser man will have the police after him, and he will be branded a sex offender and put on a registry that perpetually outs him as such.

Mostly, I am just glad that this trilogy finally came to an end. I am, however, keeping the soundtracks with me.

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