Ang Lee keeps pushing the envelope with his movies. His last big opus, Brokeback Mountain gained both notoriety and fame for tackling a homosexual relationship. Now his latest picture, Lust, Caution seems to be making things even more steamy.

It was announced Friday that the MPAA has branded Lee’s next picture with an NC-17 rating, hardly surprising for a movie that has “lust” in the title and depicts a woman who plots to murder a man after seducing her way into his life. Ruled as carrying too much graphic sexuality, the movie has gotten the stamp of doom in some people’s eyes, with the added ruling that an appeal wouldn’t be possible without a recut.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film contains three graphic sex scenes, one of which is an extended montage (entendre not intended). While no full frontal male nudity is shown, there is female on male oral sex, some S&M, and several “non-traditional” positions used to communicate the aggression between the characters. So, the ruling isn’t exactly much of a surprise.

What is surprising is that Focus Films CEO James Schamus announced that the company is accepting the ruling without protest. Additionally, they won’t be forcing any changes to the movie to improve that rating. They gave Ang Lee final cut, this is what he’s delivered, and the company is standing behind that. That’s an incredibly uncommon move considering that the rating endangers the movie’s success at the box office, particularly since many major chains will not carry NC-17 movies. That leaves the picture mostly in the hands of arthouses who probably will offer no problems in carrying the movie, but just aren’t as well traveled to the common filmgoer.

Lust, Caution is scheduled to premiere in the next few weeks in Venice and Toronto film festivals, leading to its theatrical run. How many theaters that will be is up in the air at this point, but I have to say it’s refreshing to hear about a studio backing their artist instead of forcing him to conform so they can make some extra money.

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