'Blue Is the Warmest Color,' Palme d'Or-Winning Lesbian Love Story, Gets NC-17 Rating

"Blue Is the Warmest Color"
"Blue Is the Warmest Color"

Blue Is the Warmest Color, the lesbian love story that won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, has been rated NC-17 by the MPAA’s Classification & Ratings Administration. Rather than contest the rating, cut the film or release it without a rating, distributor Sundance Selects announced Tuesday that it will release the film beginning on Oct. 25 with the restrictive NC-17 rating.

The adults-only rating means that no one aged 17 and under will be admitted to the film. Blue received the rating for “explicit sexual content.”

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Since Sundance Selects, a sister label to IFC Films, owned and operated by AMC Networks, is not a studio subsidiary, it is free to release movies without a rating if it chooses, although some theaters decline to exhibit unrated films.

"This is a landmark film with two of the best female performances we have ever seen on screen. The film is, first and foremost, a film about love, coming of age and passion. We refuse to compromise Kechiche's vision by trimming the film for an R rating, and we have every confidence that Blue Is the Warmest Color will play in theaters around the country regardless,” said Jonathan Sehring, president of Sundance Selects/IFC Films. “An NC-17 rating no longer holds the stigma it once did, and we look forward to bringing this unforgettable film to audiences nationwide. We believe this film will leave a lasting imprint, as did The Last Tango in Paris, for a whole new generation."

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Officials at both the MPAA and the National Association of Theater Owners have long argued that there is a place for the adults-only NC-17 rating, although the major studios have generally avoided releasing films with the rating.

Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche from a screenplay he wrote with Ghalia Lacroix, the French-language film stars Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos, and was produced by Alcatraz Films, Quat'Sous Films and Wild Bunch. The film centers on a 15-year-old girl, played by Exarchopoulos, who falls for an older art student.

In France, the film received a rating of "12" by the French Ministry of Culture, indicating the film is unsuitable for children younger than 12 years of age.

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