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France Lets 12-Year-Olds See ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

Fifty Shades of Grey, the film showing more sex than the 100 most sex-filled films of 2014, has been given a rating by France’s film board that will allow children as young as 12 to see it.

France has four rankings for films: U, 12, 16 and 18. Fifty Shades of Grey received the 12 rating. Jean-Francois Mary, president of France’s Board of Film Classification, called the film a “a romance, you could even say schmaltzy,” adding that it was “not a film that can shock a lot of people.”

France has a more liberal rating system than Great Britain; the “U” rating, which allows anyone to see the film, was given to American Beauty, in which a married man has an affair with his daughter’s best friend, and Eyes Wide Shut, which shows a steamy sex scene between Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise. In England audience members had to be at least 18 years of age to see the film. Fifty Shades of Grey is rated R in the U.S. and rated 18 in the U.K. In Malaysia, it was banned for being “too sadistic.”

Despite the graphic nature of the book on which the film is based, one critic measured that only 15 minutes of the two-hour film showed sexual activity, while another critic disappointedly noted no genitals or orgasms were displayed.

The female director of the film, Sam Taylor-Johnson, told The Guardian that her film might disappoint audiences hungry for sex scenes:

The thing that was most difficult was how and where to pepper the sex, and to not make it feel like it was gratuitous. So it had to be a really strong part of the story, and I had to give characterisation to each sex scene, to make them different. I didn’t want it to be graphically explicit, and I know that’s going to be disappointing to some people. It’s the build up and titillation of touch and sensuality. So I don’t think it goes into the realm of porn.

The series of books revolving around the BDSM-loving Christian Grey has sold over 100 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 52 languages.  MTV excitedly reported there are 14 “spanks” in the film, along with two shots of a male’s behind and six shots of a woman’s.

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