R16: Violence, offensive language, and sex scenes
This page outlines how the classification criteria were applied. We do our best to discuss the content while avoiding spoilers, but please avoid reading this information if you do not want to learn anything about the content of this movie.
Fifty Shades Freed is the third entry into the Fifty Shades film trilogy.
It is an American erotic romance film based on the best-selling novel by EL James, following Anastasia (Ana) Steele immediately after she marries Christian Grey. Ana finds that she has to adjust to married life, while navigating her husband’s controlling nature.
Date registered: 10/01/2018
The film deals with sex extensively in a titillating manner, with several drawn out scenes. However, depictions of sex in the film are never explicit. The depictions of dominant and submissive role-play are fairly mild, and aren’t explored in any depth. They are simply an established part of Ana and Christian's loving marriage.
In one of the sex scenes, Ana uses her safe word to get out of sex. Christian is angry with Ana and refuses to have sex with her. However, he appears later to have a change of heart and blindfolds Ana, before leading her into the “red room”. He rubs a vibrator against her (clothed) genitals, and then lifts it away, telling her “This is how you make me feel – you promise one thing, then do the opposite”. Ana tells him not to lift the vibrator away, but he continues to alternate between rubbing the vibrator against her and not. Ana uses her safe word. Christian immediately unshackles her. She tells him, “That was not love; that was revenge”.
This act is clearly tinged with shades of domestic abuse. It is also clearly denounced in the film, with Ana (the viewpoint character) chastising Christian for using sex as punishment.
The film has a B-plot that deals with violent crime. It focusses on a stalker who is intruding into Ana and Christian’s lives, making Christian more protective (and controlling) of Ana than usual.
At one point, the stalker manages to sneak into Christian and Ana’s home. He grabs Ana from behind when she arrives home and holds her at knifepoint. The stalker is quickly stopped by Ana’s bodyguards, who knock him down with a punch and restrain him. He is arrested and charged. However, he is later released on bail and kidnaps Mia, Christian’s younger sister, holding her hostage for ransom. When the now-pregnant Ana arrives with the money, the stalker slaps her twice across the face and kicks her in the stomach while she is lying on the floor. Ana pulls out a gun and shoots the stalker in the leg; a small amount of blood spurts from the wound before the stalker falls out of the frame, and the police arrive. Blood runs out of the corner of Ana’s mouth. Ana is hospitalised and shown with a cut and bruised face.
Fifty Shades Freed is a sexually charged melodrama that focusses almost entirely on the relationship between Ana and Christian. While it deals with advanced sexual conduct and sexual power dynamics, these depictions aren’t explicit, and the BDSM elements are less prominent than in the previous two films. Furthermore, instead of focusing on the sexual relationship between Christian and Ana (as in the previous films) Fifty Shades Freed shows Ana asserting herself and taking control in her relationship with Christian, resulting in a more equal dynamic between the two.
Nonetheless a mature understanding of sexual relationships, as well as relationships in general, is likely needed to contextualise the scene of sexual conflict between Ana and Christian and understand that Christian is in the wrong. The popularity of the books means that older teenagers are likely to already be aware of the wider context of the story. However, younger viewers are unlikely to have this context and the scene’s inclusion in a romantic film may be confusing and harmful to their developing sexual awareness, behaviours and attitudes. As such the film is classified R16.