The country that brought you Georges Bataille, Pauline Réage, Charles Baudelaire, the Marquis de Sade, Catherine Millet, etc., doesn’t see what the fuss is over Fifty Shades of Grey. The film, which got an R rating from the Motion Pictures Association of America for its depiction of dominance and submission, will be accessible to movie-going French minors as young as twelve.
Unlike the MPAA, which described the movie as having “strong sexual content,” “unusual behavior and graphic nudity,” the president of the French board of film classification dismissed the film, calling it “schmaltzy.”
Mike Pearl at Vice was quick to point out that it follows that the French wouldn’t see this movie as shocking, given that contemporary French cinema is still experimenting with what the critic James Quandt describes as a determination to “wade in rivers of viscera and spumes of sperm.”
It’s tempting to blame the French. But I dare anyone who actually believes that the French can’t be shocked to show up at a dinner party in Médoc with a bottle Two Buck Chuck and declare it the finest vintage in the world.