Four weeks after its theatrical release, Australia's Classification Review Board has withdrawn Baise-Moi's R18+ certificate, making it illegal to screen the film in the country.

The four-member review board unanimously overturned the original R18+ classification given to the French film, because it contains elements beyond those set out in the legislative guidelines. The combination of sexual violence, graphic sex scenes, and scenes that demean both women and men, were all taken into account.

There is only one category more restrictive than R18+ in Australia, the video-only X18+ classification. But the film cannot be accommodated even under this classification because, although actual sex is permissible, sexual violence is not.

The review board's statement notes that it considered the film to have significant artistic and cultural merit, but this was not sufficient to override the guidelines. It said it had considered submissions from interested parties.

"Of all the people who have seen the film, even those who don't like it much, no-one believes adults should not have the right to see it," Mark Spratt of Potential, the film's distributor told Screendaily.

It was appalling that the Attorney-General ordered a review on behalf of a few right-wing pressure groups, he said, adding concern that this may be the beginning of a trend.

Potential also handled the French film Romance in 2000, which was refused classification initially, then given an R18+ rating after lobbyists at the opposite end of the spectrum took up the cause. Romance ended up grossing A$650,000. Baise-Moi has reached nearly half that.