According to all reports, Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling make a charming fake couple in the indie flick Blue Valentine. But while the trailer focuses on happier times, something in the movie was twisted enough to warrant an NC-17 rating.
The movie, which will be released in December, tells the story of a married couple seeking to recapture some of their earlier spark. Williams and Gosling play parents Cindy and Dean, who book a night at a theme hotel in attempts to fix their crumbling marriage and reignite the passion. The film switches back and forth in time, showing us first the present day, then their first meeting, and back again. It details their happy start while asking constantly where did their love go?
If this description sounds pretty tame, well, that's because it is. Blue Valentine isn't violent or full of explicit sex, so why the NC-17 rating? Deadline's Mike Flemming has the answer:
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.
It's not entirely clear from this description how much Williams resists sex—or how much she consents. From the sounds of it, Blue Valentine is an attempt to show the daily frustrations and humiliations that come hand-in-hand with an unhappy marriage. Should unwanted sex be one of them? Absolutely not. Might it be? Sure. Movies with far more disturbing scenes—even far more disturbing rape scenes—get R ratings everyday, which leaves us to wonder, what makes Blue Valentine any different? Is it worse because it is somehow more real?
We will probably have to wait until December to get the answers, but the filmmakers might be forced to cut the scene before then to ensure that under-17 viewers can get into the theater—and that Blue Valentine isn't overlooked come Oscar season.
MPAA Gives Ryan Gosling-Michelle Williams Drama 'Blue Valentine' Dreaded NC-17 [Deadline]
New Trailers: 'Blue Valentine,' '127 Hours,' 'The Way Back' [Gold Derby]