'Blue Valentine': Harvey Weinstein rails against NC-17 rating

blue-valentineImage Credit: Davi RussoIn his battle to overturn the NC-17 rating of Blue Valentine, the gritty relationship drama starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, The Weinstein Company co-head Harvey Weinstein tells EW he has already assembled lawyers to appeal the rating to the MPAA. Weinstein says he’s tapped Alan Friedman, who helped TWC win an R rating for Zack and Miri Make a Porno following a rare reversal by the MPAA, and David Boies, who represented Al Gore in Bush v. Gore and teamed with former Solicitor General Theodore Olson to challenge California Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage.

According to Weinstein, the MPAA issued the dreaded NC-17 for a single scene that depicts Gosling’s character performing oral sex on Williams’. “That was good acting,” says Weinstein. “Maybe too good.” (A rep for the MPAA cited its policy not to comment on individual films until a rating has been accepted.)

Weinstein also questions the MPAA’s  standards. “How did Piranha 3D get an R and Blue Valentine gets an NC-17?” he asks, citing the August horror film released by TWC’s own Dimension label (run by his brother, Bob Weinstein). “If [Piranha 3D] got an NC-17, I’d be the first going, ‘All right, we gotta cut some of that stuff.’ It’s ridiculous — a penis got coughed up in the movie by a piranha! They show more in four scenes [in that movie] than we do in [all of Blue Valentine]! And ours is a serious love story. I don’t understand it.”

“We’re going to have to overturn this,” Weinstein says of the NC-17, which could seriously limit the movie’s commercial and awards prospects. “This is serious stuff. This could really hurt the movie.” Regardless of the outcome of his appeal, Weinstein says he has no intention of cutting writer-director Derek Cianfrance’s film to get an R rating. “Derek doesn’t want to do it, I don’t think there’s any reason to do it, and of course I’m worried that if we don’t get the R it could jeopardize the business of the movie and more importantly my actors … because they are eminently nominatable.”

For more on Blue Valentine, be sure to pick up next week’s Entertainment Weekly on stands Nov. 12.

Read more:
Michelle Williams talks ‘Blue Valentine’ and its NC-17 rating
MPAA gives ‘Blue Valentine’ an NC-17

Comments (43 total) Add your comment
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  • David

    I’m not big on censorship, and I hope he wins his case – but really, how essential can one oral sex scene be to the story they’re trying to tell?

    • DT

      I really wouldn’t mind seeing Michelle Williams get pleasured that way myself. It might make up for a lot of the brooding and depression this movie’s going to be chock full of, not that brooding and depression keep me away from movies or anything.

    • Heidi

      Viggo Mortenson’s character performed oral sex too Maria Bello’s character near the beginning of the movie “A History of Violence”. I found it intimate and tender, not vulgar. Why wasn’t theirs rated higher (there is alot of violence in that film as well but no one seems to care about violence)

      • Heidi

        I meant he did so as well to her character…

    • Michael

      Yeah, if it’s really such a big deal, just cut the scene. I’m sure the story will still stand on its own without it.

    • george

      I think there is more of a principal at stake. There seems to be such a double standard between violence and sex. They’re taking a stand that they don’t intend to cut up a work they’ve devoted time, their artisic and creative selves, etc., to appease a third-party group whose “rating” has the power to ruin all commercial prospects for a film. I’m sure that scene conveys a lot about the relationship in that film. Why have to cut that, when in other films penis’ are getting “coughed up in the movie by a piranha!”

  • Nick

    I saw this last night at the Savannah Film Festival, it was amazing, although I would have assumed it received the rating for another scene entirely, but still I hope it gets overturned, it was so real.

  • Zombie Jesus

    Unless they are actually showing his tongue taking a dive into her no-no part, I se no reason why that one scene decides the NC-17 rating. But if you look at the past month, the MPAA has made some shady calls with at least 3 movies I know of.

    Well, at least they saved the innocence of all those 16 year old kids who were clamoring to see Blue Valentine.

    Now we can feel safer knowing that a 16 year old child doesn’t know what oral sex looks like. Unless of course he/she does a simple search on the internet.

    • B

      lmao.. “his tonger taking a dive into her no-no part”…

  • tg

    I get some aggravated over stuff like this. It’s perfectly fine, according to the MPAA, to chop off a breast…but heaven forbid you should touch one in a sexual way in a movie. I have no idea why this country is so terrified of sex but so totally cool with violence. Sounds pretty sick to me.

    • Brian

      I’d say it’s because the violence is obviously fake (as any responsible parent would make sure their children know), but nudity has to be real (unless you go with CGI). The argument as I understand it isn’t against sex, but against showing too much of it.

      • Brian

        And yes, I have a problem with showing excessive gore too.

      • AK

        Violence in movies like the James Bond and Bourne series is very realistic. Just because it is fake, doesn’t mean it looks fake. How is that different than simulated sex?

      • Aaron

        Regardless if the violence is fake or not, don’t you find it disturbing how we as an audience can calmly sit through a movie like Saw or Hostel and watch people be savagely tortured, mutilated, and murdered? It’s really kind of sick when you think about it.

      • Brian

        I do think it’s disturbing that people can watch stuff like Saw and Hostel.
        The violence in the Bourne/Bond movies is significantly less graphic, and that’s a good level to shoot for. I don’t need more than that to get the idea. Similarly, I don’t need to see complete nudity to get the idea of sex.

    • Nyxs

      There wasn’t any titis and ass but there was a ton of barefeet and that’s about as auinsorg as it gets for Tarantino. So there was a big explotive element in Death Proof for people with foot fetishes, although he could’ve had a foot job scene, but that’ve been a little much, no?

  • Pat

    I find it ridiculous that films like Saw and Hostel can get away with the crap they show and get an R rating and the Matrix, which hardly shows blood and although violent, is not as harsh get the exact same rating.

    It sounds like the sex scene in Blue Valentine is just as (or less) graphic in the one Monster’s ball or some other movie with the same graphic sex scene.

    I just don’t understand the standards of the MPAA.

    • Jenny

      Maybe if the MPAA people think that decapitation and ripping out the skin is way for people to learn what’s inside our bodies.

  • m1

    You can sue for an MPAA rating? I didn’t know that! Anyway, isn’t it kind of ironic how people are complaining about the New Year’s Eve release date, but due to this controversy, that it might allow the film time to deal with this?

  • Lisa Beare

    They did the EXACT same thing to Hilary Swank and Chole Sevingy in Boys Don’t Cry and they had to cut the scene. For some reason it is ok to pleasure a man on film but the minute a female is being pleasured it is NC17

    • Dani C

      The same thing happened in The Cooler…have to agree w/Lisa…heaven forbid a women receive oral pleasure. We as a society are not ok w/women as sexual beings….unless we’re talking about a lesbian kiss, cause we all know that’s hot.

      • Grubi

        It is hot. Lol. But yeah, I agree. I don’t think it should matter who is giving or receiving the oral sex.

  • Alex

    The MPAA seems to have flipped recently. Alot of films that are apparently low on extreme content are getting slapped with ridiculous ratings.

  • C,

    my comment won’t post…

    • David D

      Mine aren’t posting either. Except maybe this one.

  • bruno

    damn straight. weinstein up!

  • stjeans

    2 words: Prudes & Hypocrits

  • Heidi

    I heard at the Toronto Film Festival though, that people thought it was about a domestic abuse/rape scene…. but I can’t say for sure because I haven’t seen it.
    But yes – in Canada and Europe they are harsher on violence and more tolerant of sex scenes

    • Heidi

      upon reflection, the film festival critics and moviegoers in Toronto ASSUMED the NC17 murmurs were because of a scene of violence against Michelle Williams’ character. But, it could be that assumption was wrong and the rating was given because of the oral sex scene. Which I don’t think was even considered that controversial or disturbing!

      • Eileen

        MPAA logic: Violence, even disturbing domestic violence against women, is fine. Women receiving a potentially pleasurable sexual act? NOT acceptable.

    • cdnfilmgal

      I saw the film in Toronto. You don’t see very much and it is not an abuse or rape scene – there is nothing like that in the film at all. There is another more graphic sex scene, and even it is very authentic – apparently seeing female breasts (which you do see in that scene) versus a man’s head in the vicinity of a woman’s genitals is more acceptable to the MPAA -unbelievable!

  • K_Sull

    From the sound of this article, I think ‘Boardwalk Empire’ has gotten away with more in the last few episodes than the MPAA will allow ‘Blue Valentine’ in a whole film. If the scene is a necessary part of the film, and I don’t see why this is any more gratuitous or disturbing than a scene in a horror/slasher movie, don’t cut it.

    But to be perfectly honest, the only reason I have heard of and will go out of my way to see this film (it will likely not make its way to my local theatre) is because of the rating controversy. Weinstein has to be happy on some level for what the MPAA has done for this film.

  • NotAmerican

    Responding to tg & Brian re: nudity/sex vs. violence/gore – IMHO, the MPAA are doing what their stated goal is: to assign ratings that reflect “community standards”. In the US, where 1 out of every 2 people own a gun, you get more people shot in [name your violent city] in one weekend than get shot in a year in most other Western countries. Conversely, Americans have (by far) the highest teen pregnancy rate in the world, have (so-called) sex education classes where they say “Don’t do it, or Jeebus The Holy Roller will send you to hell”. I look at it this way – most of us are never going to be involved in a “Hostel”-esque torture scenario, a Jason Bourne “border guard fight”, or a generic Bruce Willis gun fight. But, what is completely NORMAL and, in fact, NECESSARY for humans is sex, which generally involves nudity. And yet I have NEVER heard anyone from the MPAA say, “We think sex is worse than violence because…” (Probably because there is no logical, intelligent way to finish that sentence.)

  • Dave

    As if this movie is on the radar of any 13 year old…

    • m1

      I know some teenagers who saw/were interested in Slumdog Millionaire, Inglourious Basterds, even Precious and Brokeback Mountain. I wouldn’t be surprised if some wanted to sneak in.

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