The Weinstein Co. successfully appealed the MPAA classification of “Blue Valentine” as NC-17, which threatened to gravely compromise its commerical prospects. The MPAA had cited a graphic sex scene as the rationale for this restrictive rating. The film, which opens in limited release Dec. 31, will now be tagged with the less-cumbersome R rating, which allows those under 18 to attend the film when accompanied by an adult.
“Blue Valentine” figures in our pundits predictions for Oscar contenders. Michelle Williams — who plays one-half of the embattedl couple at the heart of the story — picked up an Indie Spirit nomination last week and makes the Best Actress list for several of our experts. Her co-star, Ryan Gosling, is also in the mix though the Best Actor field is fiercely competitive this year.
TWC co-chair Harvey Weinstein mounted an aggressive campaign to have the MPAA reconsider their original finding, hiring noted legal eagles David Boies — who represented Al Gore in the 2000 election fight — and Alan R. Friedman — who got TWC’s “Zzack and Miri Make a Porno” re-rated — to handle the appeal. As part of the PR strategy, TWC screened the film for the industry and released statements from both stars of “Blue Valentine.”
Said Gosling, “You have to question a cinematic culture which preaches artistic expression, and yet would support a decision that is clearly a product of a patriarchy-dominant society, which tries to control how women are depicted on screen. The MPAA is okay supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes, but they are trying to force us to look away from a scene that shows a woman in a sexual scenario, which is both complicit and complex. It’s misogynistic in nature to try and control a woman’s sexual presentation of self. I consider this an issue that is bigger than this film.”
And for Williams, “The MPAA’s decision on ‘Blue Valentine’ unmasks a taboo in our culture, that an honest portrayal of a relationship is more threatening than a sensationalized one. Mainstream films often depict sex and violence in a manner that is disturbing and very far from reality. Yet, the MPAA regularly awards these films with a more audience friendly rating, enabling our culture’s desensitization to violence, rape, torture and brutality. Our film does not depict any of these attributes. It’s simply a candid look at the difficulties couples face in sustaining their relationships over time. ‘Blue Valentine’ opens a door for couples to have a dialogue about the everyday realities of many relationships. This film was made in the spirit of love, honesty and intimacy. I hope that the MPAA will hear our pleas and reconsider their decision.”
Photo: “Blue Valentine” logo (TWC)