Harvey Weinstein makes like Houdini and resurrects “Blue Valentine” from its NC-17 grave.
On October 8th the MPAA slapped “Blue Valentine” with an unfair and perplexing NC-17 rating for explicit sexual content. Yesterday, after a “impassioned plea” by the infamous Harvey Weinstein, the film miraculously received an R-Rating three weeks prior to the film’s limited release and just in time for awards season.
Derek Cianfrance’s film has been garnering buzz since “Blue Valentine” premiered at 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Critics raved about the performances of Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in a genuine and heartbreaking depiction of a couple falling in and out of love. After Sundance, the film was picked up for distribution by The Weinstein Company immediately considered a contender for some important gilded statues.
As the film screened throughout the year at multiple film festivals domestically and overseas, criticism sprung about the film possibly being too depressing, and too raw. Whispers also followed the film about the intensely emotional sexual scenes. This kind of criticism seemed hurt the film’s award chances. When the MPAA slammed the film with a NC-17 rating, those chances flatlined. Controversy and the fickle Motion Picture Academy do not mix. (See: Brokeback Mountain)
However a byproduct of the MPAA ruling sent the press and critics who had seen the film into a frenzy. And over the course of the last couple months as Oscar contending films were released each weekend, “Blue Valentine” continued to generate buzz, simply because the film was deemed controversial.
Harvey Weinstein, the king of generating Oscar buzz, spent the past two months making a very public fuss over “Blue Valentine”‘s rating for a couple important reasons. A film with an NC-17 rating is like Hester Pryn wearing a large red “A” on her clothes, while it makes the film intriguing to some, to most it reminds people of “Showgirls.” Secondly, Weinstein is distributing the film and it’s extremely rare to find an NC-17 film at your local cineplex.
The result of “Blue Valentine” receiving it’s deserved R-rating goes beyond box office dollars and increased Oscar chances. Whether Weinstein planned it or not, he just inadvertently created the best marketing campaign of the Oscar season. However, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the film’s excellent trailer was released on Oct. 8th, the same day the MPAA rated the film NC-17.
Weinstein knew potential audiences would be drawn to the film due to the controversy. The same man who massaged the Academy until convinced them to give him the Best Picture award for “Shakespeare in Love,” has now magically resurrected “Blue Valentine.” The intimidating man, famously depicted on “Entourage” has got his way, yet again, this time in impressive fashion.
Now we’ll wait and see if “Blue Valentine,” Gosling, and Williams will pick up any nominations, because remember the majority of the country has yet to see the film. In fact there’s no guarantee the film will be recognized when the Oscar nominations are announced.
But thanks to Harvey Weinstein and the MPAA, there is little doubt “Blue Valentine” will be one of the most buzzed about films this holiday season.