"Kissing is so vanilla. Let's just breathe into each other's mouths."

A lot of the Fifty Shades of Grey backlash—particularly from people who have never read or seen Fifty Shades of Grey—is inspired by discomfort with the idea of women’s sexuality. The concept of women taking pleasure from a consensual but nontraditional relationship with a sexy man is somehow still too prickly for pop culture to embrace. So they make jokes about how poorly written the book is, they diminish the countless real-life women who decide to visit—for the first time in their lives, maybe—a sex toy shop after being drawn into the story. All of this is happening because it’s easier to belittle something that you don’t want to acknowledge. So let’s be clear: If you want to read a review loaded with snarky slut-shaming, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The internet is full of those kinds of reviews right now.

Don’t get me wrong: Fifty Shades of Grey is so poorly written it’s almost unbelievable. It famously started as Twilight fan fiction, and even with all the vampirism edited out, it still reads like it was written by someone whose experience with novels begins and ends with theTwilight series. For much of the book, Anastasia Steele, the main character, shares a shocking lack of romantic agency with Bella Swan from Twilight. From the minute she meets hot young bachelor billionaire Christian Grey, she knows she wants him, but she’s so inexperienced she doesn’t know how to rope him in. Early in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, Steele (Dakota Johnson) reminds us that she’s about to graduate college with a 4.0 GPA, but she’s also incredibly naive. She’s never had a boyfriend, she lacks confidence in her looks, and she’s a total klutz, which we know because she trips exactly once in the film. Johnson handles the cipher of a role—one of her major character traits is that she bites her lip a lot—with surprising ease.

The movie doesn’t waste much time introducing her to Grey (Jamie Dornan, the Irish actor who is so good in The Fall but desperately struggling with an American accent here) and his so-called “red room of pain,” where he carries out his S&M fantasies. They’re an attractive couple, and it’s nice to watch attractive people take their clothes off, but the actors lack the kind of spontaneous chemistry that could’ve turned Fifty Shades of Grey into something greater than the book it’s adapted from. You have no trouble believing they’re sexually attracted to each other, but the kind of attraction the book calls for—the once-in-a-lifetime gravity—just isn’t there. A few of the scenes where the characters reiterate their positions get downright boring: We hear on multiple occasions that Steele wants Grey to be emotionally forthcoming and Grey wants Steele to become his ideal submissive. Without that bone-deep need for each other, all this relationship talk becomes a flurry of nagging.

The characters wander about a fantasy version of Seattle where Belltown is the sort of place billionaires live, and the skyline swells with a few extra Vancouver glass skyscrapers. Local audiences will find the establishing shots of Seattle at night to be validating—there were cheers at the press preview I attended—but the particular flavor of street-level Seattle is missing, presumably because the movie wasn’t filmed here. Too, the interiors of Grey’s luxury condo feel a little too much like an upscale Hilton rather than a place where a nigh-infinitely wealthy man of impeccable taste would choose to live. All this lack of concern with the setting gives us the impression of a movie that takes place nowhere but inside a movie.

But what you care about is the sex. Specifically, how much dick do you get to see? Sadly, none: There’s a whooshing, momentary blur of Grey’s pubic hair and maybe the base of his shaft, but Fifty Shades of Grey is too prudish to indulge in more than the merest suggestion of Grey’s cock. Steele, however, spends a fair amount of time in the nude, and the movie takes its time with the sex scenes. There’s an early scene where Steele climbs on top of Grey and his buttocks start flexing as he pushes inside her. The camera glides up the bed to a shitty painting of the sea in the sort of demure transition anyone who’s ever watched Cinemax is way too familiar with, but then the camera just keeps on gliding up the wall until it focuses on a mirror in the ceiling, in which we get another good view of our rutting couple. It’s a clever cut that subverts movie expectations, and Fifty Shades of Grey could’ve used a lot more like it.

But the tone of the sex scenes is exactly right. Grey is a gentleman who demonstrates real concern for Steele’s well-being. And Steele has a good sense of humor about the whole thing, too; during one excellent scene where the couple is working out how far they’re willing to go in the red room, she lets out a hugely dorky giggle, right before she flat-out vetoes anal fisting from the sexual menu. The scenes where Grey is working on Steele’s body with various implements demonstrates that director Sam Taylor-Johnson understands where the true power in the film is. Though Steele’s hands and legs are bound and her eyes are blindfolded, Grey’s moony eyes staring down at her show that she’s the one who’s really in charge. Her pleasure is what’s important here, and he knows he’d better never forget it.

You won’t find many people willing to argue that Fifty Shades of Grey is a good movie. Many would argue it’s not even a successful sexy movie. But you can’t argue with someone’s state of arousal; if you’re turned on by Fifty Shades of Grey, it worked for you. For many, it will be the cinematic equivalent of eating a whole pint of ice cream by yourself. There are spots in the middle that will make you want to turn back, and by the time you reach the end, you might regret digging into it in the first place. But you probably had a little bit of fun along the way, didn’t you? recommended