MPAA Rejects Appeal to Lower R-Rating for ‘Trust’

David Schwimmer’s new film, Trust, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September and was initially rated R by the MPAA. The film chronicles a 14-year old girl’s encounter with an online sexual predator and its aftermath for her and her family. The MPAA rated the film “R” for “disturbing material involving the rape of a teen, language, sexual content, and some violence.” Like the folks behind Blue Valentine, Trust distributor Millennium Entertainment appealed the rating, hoping to get the film a less restrictive rating so it could be seen by teenagers, potentially as a cautionary tale.

We’ve now learned the MPAA has upheld the R rating given to Trust. Hit the jump for some more details behind the decision.

I haven’t seen Trust yet, so I can’t say with certainty whether or not this is yet another in a long series of boneheaded moves by the MPAA. But Schwimmer certainly seems to think so. Speaking with Deadline, Schwimmer commented:

There is no nudity, no overt sexuality other that what needed to be implied for a scene in the hotel room where we learn that a rape took place…I think the scene was tastefully handled.

Schwimmer also hinted at the profanity in the film, which is likely what drove the MPAA to invoke its “one fuck rule” and brand the film with an R-rating. According to Schwimmer:

The idea that Clive’s character should respond by shouting ‘Fiddlesticks’ is just not real…Let’s face it, kids have heard and seen it all. What I find frustrating is there are plenty of films that get PG-13 that are the so violent. There is a double standard. You can’t show nudity or hear the F-word, but you can show people being blown to bits and chopped up. Maybe a public forum will show that the ratings system needs to be updated to reflect the times. It is quite old.

Schwimmer says he won’t alter the film to give it a softer rating. Why should he? The problem isn’t with his film. It’s with a ratings system that’s so arcane and esoteric that it gives absolutely no attention to context. It doesn’t matter if the nudity in your film is taking place during the Holocaust or during a sex scene. It doesn’t matter if your “fucks” occur in the middle of a Denis Leary-inspired tirade or in the anguished shouts of a father whose daughter has just been sexually victimized. Nipples are nipples. “Fucks” are “fucks.” And the MPAA Ratings Board is still an organization that’s on the rapid decline.

If there’s one thing we can be thankful for in these recent decisions, it’s that they’ve brought bad press to the MPAA and opened up the possibility for dialogue and criticism. Could change also be on the way?

Trust is scheduled for release on April 1, 2011.

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