Well, it's now official. After an appeal, the MPAA has weighed in and given William Friedkin's "Killer Joe" the dreaded NC-17 rating. And while this is unlikely to draw the celebrity and political support of the campaign Harvey Weinstein is putting behind the R-rated documentary "Bully," it's still a reminder of the MPAA's conservative viewpoint and the mysteriousness of the process by which they hand out ratings. And none of this is lost on "Killer Joe"'s star, Gina Gershon.
Playlister Cory Everett sat in with the actress and Emile Hirsch as they chatted with press at SXSW earlier this week, before the the MPAA made their decision on the appeal. And she was quite candid with her feelings on the ratings board. "The NC-17, it's so befuddling to me because there are so many movies that I've seen that are so uber-violent, you're 'If this is NC-17, why aren't those NC-17.' It feels so random to me," she said. "I dont' think it should be PG for sure, but it's a tricky thing. I just think parents should be able to decide what their kids are going to see, and it certainly isn't more violent than other movies that I've seen. I always wonder if [my character] were a guy, if it would've been an NC-17 — like when he hits her, and there's that violence — would it have been, 'Oh it's okay.' "
Citing "Saw," "Hostel" and "Casino" as films whose violence are far more explicit than anything in "Killer Joe," Gershon revealed that it's not the first time one of her films got under the skin of the MPAA. "[For] 'Bound' we had to change the love scene to make it an R. And the love scene that they didn't like was a really intense, beautiful love scene. And you didn't see any body parts, you didn't see anything, it was an intense [scene] between me and Jennifer [Tilly]. And they were like, 'Oh we can't have this.' And when we changed it to the other love scene, which was much more — not violent, but it had a hardness to it — they were like, 'Oh yeah this is fine.' I was like, 'I don't understand this,' " she said, adding, "[Paul] Verhoeven would tell a lot of stories about 'Basic Instinct,' how they kept saying, 'No no no' and one day they said 'Yes,' and he goes, 'I didn't change a thing.' "
Whatever the exact reasons for the rating, we'll never quite know. But "Killer Joe" is a pretty sizzling piece of work, so if it does manage to pop up at a screen near you, make the effort to go see it. But leave the kids at home, and you might not want to eat any fried chicken immediately before or after viewing…