LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - BERLIN -- The French National Film Board (CNC) has given Sam Taylor-Johnson's Fifty Shades of Grey a relaxed PG-12 rating.

12 Feb 2015 - 6:29 AM  UPDATED 12 Feb 2015 - 10:42 AM

Underscoring the discrepancies in social mores throughout Europe, Fifty Shades of Grey was judged much more strictly in the U.K., where the movie has been given an "18" certification for "unusual behavior and graphic nudity."

In France, however, teenagers will get to see the movie, which features numerous sex scenes. In fact, Jean-Francois Mary, who presides over the French ratings board, said Fifty Shades of Grey was nothing more than a "romance."

"It's really a romance, we could even call it a bleuette -- a sentimental tale," said Mary of the board's decision to allow adolescent moviegoers into the movie.

The Gallic board even considered not restricting the movie for audiences under 12, according to Premiere magazine. "The director handled the sex scenes very skillfully and limited them to the bare minimum. It's more the subject itself, this SM relationship, which pushed us to restrict the movie for audiences under 12."

Many French journos have criticised the CNC's decision, finding it too permissive.

"France will therefore be the only country to allow 13-year old children to watch doggy-style sex scenes and other less conventional sexual behaviors in theaters," wrote Phalene de la Valette in Le Point magazine. "Throughout the world everyone seems to agree that the film is not appropriate for younger audiences. In Canada, Ireland, Australia and Czech Republic, Belgium and Sweden, ratings vary between 18 and 15 years old. Even the very liberal countries like the Netherlands didn't go under that age limit," added the journalist.

It's not the first time the French ratings board has been judged too lax. Last year, it gave Blue Is the Warmest Colour an under 12 restriction, and a couple years ago, it allowed children into Porn in the Hood, a local comedy that featured many graphic sex scenes, including a female ejaculation.

Fifty Shades of Grey bowed today in France and already leads the box office.

The movie was released in Australian cinemas today and is rated MA15+. Watch the trailer below:


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