Posted on Thursday, October 14th, 2010 by Russ Fischer
Blue Valentine was one of the hits of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and it has been considered a likely awards contender thanks to great performances by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. So there was no small amount of shock expressed last week when the MPAA slapped the film with the NC-17 rating, effectively killing any chance of wide advertising and booking.
Now The Weinstein Company, which bought Blue Valentine’s distribution rights out of Sundance, has released a statement about the rating, and plans to appeal.
Here’s the statement:
We want to express our deepest gratitude to our colleagues in the industry and in the media for their recent outpouring of support for Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine after the film surprisingly received an NC-17 rating from the MPAA. We are taking every possible step to contest the MPAA’s decision. We respect the work of the MPAA and we hope, after having a chance to sit down with them, they will see that our appeal is reasonable, and the film, which is an honest and personal portrait of a relationship, would be significantly harmed by such a rating.
I’m happy that this is worded with tact, and while I don’t expect the appeal to actually have any effect, perhaps this will at least raise awareness of the film a tiny bit. (That’s unlikely, too, as most of the people who’ve read about the film thanks to this boneheaded decision by the MPAA already knew about it.)
The disgusting thing about the ruling is that the NC-17 seems to have been delivered in response to a scene that isn’t dangerous, unusual or pornographic. As Deadline said when the ruling came down,
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.
Germain echoed that sentiment when he wrote about the decision last week, saying “The scene in question is certainly a little hard to watch, but not because it’s graphic. It’s hard to watch because it’s emotional and uncomfortable.”
Closing off this film from advertising opportunities and a wide audience because of a scene that represents an experience many of us have had, or something similar to what we’ve experienced. The intent here is to get to a basic truth about adult human relationships, not titillate an audience with sex or violence. There aren’t words to express my disappointment with the MPAA, and I wish the Weinsteins the best of luck with the appeal.