By twhalliii | THE BACK ROW MANIFESTO by Tom Hall December 8, 2010 at 9:26AM
News on Deadline Hollywood today that the MPAA has overturned the NC-17 for Derek Cianfrance's phenomenally great Blue Valentine, granting the film a much-deserved R. The best part? No changes to the cut originally submitted seem to have been required, which, great news. I am happy that the film can finally get underway marketing itself properly and I hope this means a lot more people see the film, but I can't believe this was ever in question. I guess I shouldn't complain, but like Chris Rock says, people who want a compliment for doing what they're supposed to do? Insufferable. Mike Flemming writes:
"The MPAA has overturned the NC-17 rating on the Derek Cianfrance-directed Blue Valentine. The film will be given an R rating after Harvey Weinstein personally argued his position in today's hearing. That clears up all kinds of potential problems that awaited the film had it been released with that rating or unrated. The rating was given for a sex scene between a married couple played by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as their relationship disintegrates. I'm told the appeal board's decision was unanimous."
Oh to have been a fly on the wall in that room... Here's the trailer, which, if you ask me, deeply undersells the devastating nature of the film's heartbreak. But that's another gripe for another day. Ok, trailer:
Anyway, as I wrote back in October:
"(This) may mark the first time in history that an NC-17 has been given for emotional honesty... the scene in question does have some nudity (I can't believe I just wrote that as a qualifier) but I am guessing that the reason this freaked the MPAA out is because it is shot in closeup, with Michelle Williams' suffering written so intimately upon her face that it brings you to tears. It seems as though sad sex is worse than sexual murder, with an untold number of horror films showing the literal evisceration of women receiving an R rating only to find the theater filled with teenage patrons, ID's unchecked at the door, thrilling to the fantasy of sexual horror. The fact that Blue Valentine would receive an NC-17 while a film like, say Hostel II, which depicts the sexualized evisceration of a character played by Heather Matarazzo, receives an R is, quite literally, a joke.
Now, I know that my protestations will have a 0.00% chance of changing anyone's mind at the MPAA about the ridiculous nature of this decision, but I do know this; if there was ever a doubt about their moral cowardice and inadequacy as a gatekeeper for the film industry, this decision has cemented it. Any drop of credibility their other ratings have ever had has been erased; the MPAA is clearly a body in crisis, unable to re-invent itself against the changing landscape of social norms and hypocritical in its permissive prioritization of violence over feelings. I am outraged by this decision; Blue Valentine is one of the best films of the year and if a room full of emotionally stunted (and well-paid) citizens are afraid of its honesty, it only proves how effective the movie truly is. If this decision kills the movie's commercial chances (which were going to be tough to begin with), it will be an unforgivable act of cowardice. I hope an appeal is on the way. Unfathomable."
Well, la di da. The good guys win one. Now, to build the audience for the film... Go go go see it!
My review of Blue Valentine can be found here.