The first bonafide awards season controversy (of sorts) has arrived thanks to the MPAA slapping a boneheaded NC-17 rating on the indie drama "Blue Valentine" last week. For many, this once again underscored the inconsistency of the ratings board and its bizarre preference for bloody violence over anything resembling nudity (and strangely enough, "Blue Valentine" doesn't have any violence or nudity). For pretty much everyone who has seen the film (including us) the rating makes absolutely no sense.
Following The Weinstein Company's announcement that they plan to appeal the ruling, director Derek Cianfrance has spoken out about the box office-killing rating his film has received, saying, “we were shocked by it, in all honesty. I think we made a very respectful film. It’s not exploitative. It’s honest, it’s intimate… it leaves a lot to people’s imaginations. And we’re going to fight it. We all respect the MPAA and the work that they do but we think that this decision is wrong.”
However, he does take heart in the support he's received from those who have seen the film and disagree with the MPAA, saying, “I have been surprised and honored that so many people have come to the defense of the film. There’s nobody in the press or the public that have seen the film that seem to agree with the decision.”
The film, which has been tweaked and edited by Cianfrance since it debuted at Sundance earlier in the year (it was ten minutes shorter at Cannes and a few more minutes were shaved for TIFF), is the version he feels "everyone should see." But whether or not that happens is up to the MPAA.
While there are numerous theories as to what scene or sequence the MPAA were offended by, the bottom line is no one gets naked or blown up in the film; yes, it's an emotionally intense and raw-nerved film but we don't recall that being a reason to tag the film with a rating that will effectively kill it on the vine. An R rating is certainly more appropriate and realistic, but whether the "family values" led MPAA will realize the error of their ways we'll have to wait and find out. And in case you missed it, here's the trailer. -- Kevin Jagernauth