MPAA’s Latest Misstep: ‘Blue Valentine’ Hit with NC-17 Rating;Trailer also Debuts

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It’s been a bad year for the MPAA.  First Adam Yauch blasted them this year when Oscillscope’s acclaimed Holocaust documentary A Film Unfinished received an R rating instead of a PG-13.  Than came Amir Bar-Lev, who had some unkind things to say about them after his film The Tillman Story was slapped with an R-rating.  However the most embarrassing one came yesterday when it was announced that Blue Valentine had received an NC-17 rating.  Mike Flemming from Deadline broke the shocking news and while he calls the news “an absolute head scratcher”, he does have a theory about why it may have gotten the rating.

I’m told the rating was given for a scene in which the characters played by Gosling and Williams try to save their crumbling marriage by spending a night away in a hotel. They get drunk and their problems intensify when he wants to have sex and she doesn’t, but will to get him off her back. That hurts his pride and the result is an upsetting scene that makes you squirm, but is an honest one that establishes clearly that  this couple has nothing left and isn’t going to make it because love has turned into contempt. There is barely any nudity in the scene, as I recall (though I haven’t seen it since last January) and there is no violence. It was hardly a moment that would make you think, well here comes an NC-17.

Well there you have it folks.  This is a film that I was really looking forward to because of my love for Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, plus the buzz out of Sundance and Cannes has been terrific.  However, one has to wonder how this will affect the film when it is due for release in December.  This is not the first time that Harvey Weinstein has had to deal with a film of his getting an NC-17.  Kevin Smith’s Clerks and, more recently, Zach and Miri Make a Porno both initially received NC-17 ratings, however they were thankfully overturned.  Unfortunately Harvey is 0 for 2 this year when it comes to the appeal process.  He tried to get The Tillman Story a PG-13 rating and lost, while he also tried to get The King’s Speech a PG-13 rating and, from the looks of it, has probably lost.  It should also be noted that last year’s wonderful TWC film A Single Man was slapped with an R rating when it is clear to anyone with half a brain that director Tom Ford shot the film to get a PG-13 rating.  However because of likely homophobia, the film got an R rating.

Blue Valentine’s rating will most likely be overturned but you have to wonder how much director Derek Cianfrance is willing to cut from his film, especially a scene that sounds like it is absolutely critical.  Nobody is saying that the film deserves a PG-13 but the NC-17 rating seems to be going overboard.

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