Palme d'Or Winner 'Blue Is the Warmest Color' Embraces Its NC-17 Rating

Palme d'Or winner Blue Is the Warmest Color, which features a 10-minute lesbian sex scene, has been welcomed in America with an NC-17 rating. 

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The Palme d'Or winner at Cannes this year, Blue Is the Warmest Color, is just fine with the NC-17 it received in America: its 10-minute lesbian sex scene has been the most discussed portion of the film. Distributor Sundance Selects explained that it does not plan to appeal the MPAA's rating decision or cut the film in any way, reports Gregg Kilday at The Hollywood Reporter. The film is set to be released October 25. 

Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, the film stars Adèle Exarchopoulos (who is 19 years old) as a 15-year-old girl who falls for Lea Seydoux's blue-haired art student. The graphic sex scenes between the two were much discussed at Cannes this year: were those scenes important to the film? Were they simply prurient? Many settled on the former.

"Though many entered Blue Is the Warmest Color out of perverse curiosity (I certainly did), what's surprising about the film beyond its frank eroticism is just how much weight it gives to the messy reality of relationships and sexual identity," Jada Yuan wrote at Vulture. Justin Chang at Variety wrote: "Still, it’s a measure of the honesty and generosity of Kechiche’s storytelling that the picture’s explicit sexuality and extreme running time feel consistent with his raw, sensual embrace of all aspects of life." Not everyone appreciated the scene's emotional power. The author of the graphic novel on which the film is based, Julie Maroh, said the sex was "a brutal and surgical display." Oh, the film is also three hours long.

Although U.S. distributors are still squeamish about NC-17 ratings—see: The Weinstein Company's effort to bring cut Blue Valentine to an R—it makes sense that Sundance would not shy away from the label with this film. What makes the film NC-17, after all, is what will draw people who go to art films into a theater. 

The French, obviously, don't have the same issues we do. Kilday pointed out that in France the film received a rating of "12," meaning it's only been deemed inappropriate for kids under the age of 12. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.