Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Still from Blue Valentine
The Weinstein Co. is in a bit of a scramble after one of its biggest Oscar contenders Blue Valentine, was slapped with an NC-17 rating yesterday by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America). Horrible, I know. For those of you unfamiliar with the rating, basically it prohibits anyone under the age of 17 from seeing it in theatres in the U.S.

But how is this really different from films which are Restricted (Rated R) in Canada Well, in Canada, anyone under the age of 18 is not permitted to a film deemded RestrictedBlue Valentine likely will get a Restricted rating in Canada. In the U.S., people under the age of 17 can watch a Restricted movie in theatres as long as they have a Parent or Guardian accompanying them.

The problem lies with the the stigmas attached to a film with an NC-17 rating.  A pornographic film can be edited down even to meet the NC-17 classification.  American Media may be reluctant to promote a film with the rating, which in turn hurts the film from a commercial standpoint without the support of advertising in traditional mediums like Radio, Newsprint and Television.

I have seen Derek Cianfrance's Blue Valentine and I loved it. In fact, I am v. passionate about it.  I will tell you that the two scenes in question which likely resulted in the film receiving the NC-17 rating are:
  • a scene where a younger Cindy (Michelle Williams) is intimate with her then-boyfriend Bobby (Mike Vogel) explaining her subsequent pregnancy. Other than Vogel having his pants down, Williams otherwise is pretty much clothed in the scene; hardly an erotic scene.
  • a scene with Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) showering together in the bathroom of a rented suite, trying to spark some passion into their marriage on a weekend getaway. Williams is seen fully nude and the two proceed to become intimate, but I will note again, there is hardly anything erotic about this scene as at this point, their marriage is already on-the-rocks.
Even though I know that ratings have little to do with degrees of Eroticism, I am a little baffled to why this film is NC-17. There are films with much more nudity and graphic content which have flown under the radar in recent memory like the hilarious Piranha 3-D (also from The Weinstein Co.) with its Restricted rating where audiences feast on nudity and gore by-the-plenty.

My guess is that the team behind Blue Valentine will be hitting the Editing Room again soon to make some minor adjustments, although there is still a bit of time left with more than two months to go before its December 31, 2010 release.

Although I know Dave Karger at Entertainment Weekely is a little concerned that the eventual theatrical release of the film might not be the same version he loved so much in its Festival Circuit incarnation, I will tell you the nudity and sexual content in Blue Valentine account for so little of the big picture.  The final result shouldn't be too drastic even with minor edits. The film is all about the performances we get from Gosling and Williams and that bitterweet, tender love story which resonates. 

One thing's for sure, at least people are talking about the film now.  Perhaps sometimes in life it's better to cut your losses (pardon the pun)....

To read my review of Blue Valentine click here.

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