British film censors have slapped Diary of a Teenage Girl, a critically acclaimed coming-of-age film, with an “18 certificate” rating—the same rating the U.K. gave to 50 Shades of Grey—meaning no one under 18 will be admitted into theaters.
The film stars Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgard, and Bel Powley as Minnie, a precocious 15-year-old who has an affair with her mother’s 35-year-old boyfriend. “We are massively disappointed,” Wahida Begum of Vertigo Releasing told The Guardian, adding that the British Board of Film Certification (BBFC) chose this rating via an exclusively male group of BBFC reviewers.
“The film explores female sexuality with boldness and honesty in an unexploitative manner. In an age where young women are still continually being sexualised and objectified we feel The Diary of a Teenage Girl sends a very positive, reassuring message to young girls about female sexuality and body image.
It is a shame that audience will not be able legally see a film that was made by women for women of all ages.”
The BBFC issued a statement in response, saying:
“The Diary of a Teenage Girl has been classified 18 for ‘strong sex’. The sex scenes and references are too numerous and sustained for a 15 classification to have been defensible. It is not true that the film has been seen only by men at the BBFC.”
An 18 certificate is notably harsher than the dreaded NC17 rating in the U.S. (the film has an R rating over here), which restricts anyone under 17 from theaters and usually means filmmakers will cut offending snippets and re-submit in order to make enough money at the box office. Never thought I’d feel good about that, but it seems Britain has America beat when it comes to fussy, inartful, blaringly misogynistic film censorship.
Diary of a Teenage Girl hits theaters on August 7 in the U.S. and the U.K.
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Image via Sony Pictures Classics.