The French film "Blue Is the Warmest Color" is rated NC-17 by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which means that no one under the age of 17 in the United States is supposed to be allowed admission to see the movie. But the IFC Center cineplex in New York City announced on its website that it is allowing teens under the age of 17 to see "Blue Is the Warmest Color," which opened in limited release in the U.S. on Oct. 25, 2013. The MPAA ratings are recommended guidelines, but are not enforceable by law.
IFC Films' Sundance Selects is the U.S. distributor for "Blue Is the Warmest Color."
"Blue Is the Warmest Color" is a lesbian love story that spans several years and begins when the movie's main characters Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is a 15-year-old student and Emma (played by Léa Seydoux) is a college student. The three-hour movie, which is based on a graphic novel of the same title, is rated NC-17 because of its full-frontal nudity (male and female) and explicit lesbian sex scenes.
On Oct. 23, 2013, the New York Times published this statement from IFC Center senior VP/GM John Vanco: “This is not a movie for young children, but it is our judgment that it is not inappropriate for mature, inquiring teenagers who are looking ahead to the emotional challenges and opportunities that adulthood holds.” Vanco also said that “high-school age patrons” would be admitted at IFC Center's discretion.
In France, "Blue Is the Warmest Color" has a "12" rating, which is the equivalent of the PG-13 rating in the United States. In other words, the movie is considered appropriate for children ages 13 and up, while adult supervision is recommended for children under age 13 when seeing the movie.
As previously reported, "Blue Is the Warmest Color" won the Palme d'Or (the highest prize) at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. The Palme d'Or is usually awarded to the movie's director, but in an unprecedented decision, the Cannes jury gave the prize not only to "Blue Is the Warmest Color" director Abdellatif Kechiche but also to co-stars Exarchopoulos and Seydoux. Kechiche and Seydoux have since fallen out with each other, after Seydoux did interviews criticizing Kechiche for being an overly demanding and difficult director who exploited her and Exarchopoulos in the movie's sex scenes. Kechiche has since lashed back by saying that Seydoux is "arrogant" and "spoiled."
"Blue Is the Warmest Color" has been getting mostly positive reviews from critics. The critics who don't like the movie say that the sex scenes are too gratuitous and the movie drags on for too long. There are some industry pundits who are predicting that Exarchopoulos could get an Oscar nomination for Best Actress and that "Blue Is the Warmest Color" could get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, but it's extremely rare for movies that are rated NC-17 to get Oscar nominations in those top categories. In fact, there hasn't been an NC-17 rated movie yet that has received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.
The Oscar-winning 1969 movie "Midnight Cowboy" was rated X, which was the rating that existed for movies that did not allow admission to people under age 18. The NC-17 rating was created in 1990 because the X rating had become too associated with porn movies.
After its initial release in New York City and Los Angeles, "Blue Is the Warmest Color" expands to more U.S. cities in upcoming weeks.