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‘Truth’ hurts as studio plans to appeal NC-17

August 22, 2005

By Gregg Kilday

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Call it a case of
ratings interruptus.

Independent movie distributor ThinkFilm said Friday that it
plans to appeal the commercially problematic NC-17 rating
awarded to Canadian director Atom Egoyan’s “Where the Truth
Lies.”

The only problem is that the Motion Picture Assn. of
America’s Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA) says
it hasn’t officially published the movie’s rating yet, and no
appeal date has been set.

Based on a murder mystery by Rupert Holmes, “Truth”
concerns an investigation into an unsolved murder that marred
the career of a ’50s stand-up comedy team (Kevin Bacon and
Colin Firth). The film includes a menage a trois sex scene
involving Bacon, Firth and actress Rachel Blanchard that many
observers expect will result in an NC-17, which would make the
movie off limits for viewers younger than 18.

In addition to restricting the audience, the NC-17 tag also
reduces a studio’s ability to market the movie, with some
newspapers refusing to publish ads, and some theater owners
refusing to screen such movies.

According to sources familiar with discussions between CARA
and the director, Egoyan has trimmed several scenes to the
point where they would earn the less-restrictive R rating but
that the menage a trois scene remains in NC-17 rating territory
according to CARA. “Our understanding is that you must first
accept the rating, which we did Thursday, and then you can
request an appeal,” one source said.

When journalists queried Egoyan about the movie’s possible
ratings difficulties at a media luncheon at the Cannes Film
Festival, the director said: “I guess I’m naive. I really had
no idea it would be a problem. I just heard the deciding factor
could be thrusting. Apparently, anything over three thrusts and
you’re in trouble. Well, nobody told me. I didn’t even do
covering shots, so there’s nothing I can cut away to. This is
what you get.”

ThinkFilm chairman Robert Lantos, who also is the film’s
producer, acknowledged the challenge in reshaping the scene in
question, saying: “This scene is done using a single sustained
mastershot in order to allow the actors the most conducive
environment for intimacy and intensity and in order to best
communicate what happens in the film’s pivotal scene. It cannot
be cut without compromising the central scene of the narrative
and thus rendering the mystery of the film incomprehensible. It
remains more than a bit absurd to me that this scene would
garner an R if shot exactly the same but from just the torso up
but becomes an NC-17 because the mastershot reveals full
bodies.”

The film is to be released October 14 in Los Angeles and
New York, with a national expansion October 21.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter




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