Derek Cianfrance's Ryan Gosling-Michelle Williams anti-romance "Blue Valentine" was delivered quite the opposite of a valentine this morning when Deadline broke the news that the film had been slapped with an NC-17 rating. Due to be released in late December, the MPAA's decision on "Valentine" is sure to prove controversial given the film's lack of content that would seem to warrant such a harsh rating.
"The NC-17 is an absolute head-scratcher," Deadline's Mike Fleming wrote. "I'm told 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. There is barely any nudity in the scene, as I recall (though I haven't seen it since last January) and there is no violence. It was hardly a moment that would make you think, well here comes an NC-17."
Told through flashbacks,"Valentine" looks at the rise and fall of the marriage of Gosling and Williams' characters over a number of years. Acquired by The Weinstein Company after a very warm response at Sundance, the film is being positioned for awards consideration with a December 31st release date. Its distributor is most certainly not going to be a fan of the MPAA's decision, nor are many others. In the hours since the decision, comments on Fleming's article and a variety of Tweets have made it clear early consensus is that the MPAA is once again demonstrating its "archaic" ways.
The decision also marks the third questionable MPAA decision this year that The Weinstein Company has had to deal with. In August, they gave Amir Bar-Lev's acclaimed documentary "The Tillman Story" an R rating for "language." The Weinsteins lost their appeal to the MPAA to have it reduced to a PG-13. Then last month the MPAA gave another Weinstein Oscar hopeful, Tom Hooper's "The King's Speech" another R rating for the same reasons it was handed to "Tillman."
But it's "Blue Valentine"'s decision that is likely to stir up the most unwelcome feelings. In the 20 years since the NC-17 rating was originated (it had its anniversary this year when it had been two decades since "Henry and June" - the first ever NC-17 film - was released), the only film with the rating to manage to gross over $20 million remains 1996's "Showgirls," which took in $20,350,754. Only 11 others - including Pedro Almodovar's "Bad Education," John Waters' "A Dirty Shame," Ang Lee's "Lust, Caution" and David Cronenberg's "Crash" - gave managed a $1 million gross. Check out a list of the top 10 grossing NC-17 films here.
More on this story as it develops. Check out the recently released trailer for the film here: