Boyhood's R-Rating Won't Be Enforced By The IFC Center
The MPAA is something of a boogeyman . The feeling is that their manner of rating films doesn't come from context, but rather from content, usually divorced from meaning. In other words, a sex scene has the same level of impact as a breastfeeding scene. A gun fight is just as bad as hearing the "f" word three times. You can stab a breast, but you can't grab a breast, etc. etc. As a result of this goofy system, Richard Linklater's Boyhood was given an R-rating, despite the fact that it quite realistically charts the growth of a contemporary suburban child up until his college years. Naturally, the MPAA wants to "protect" any kid who might actually watch something that, critics say, accurately depicts their own lives. But distributor IFC Films isn't having it.
In response to the R-rating, IFC tweeted about Boyhood, which is playing at the IFC Center in New York, as well as five other locations.
The MPAA only has a superficial relationship with movie theaters, and ultimately it's a theater's right to abide by the MPAA ratings. It's why the IFC Center also thumbed their nose at the silly NC-17 rating given to Blue Is The Warmest Color last year, allowing young audiences a chance to see the film that properly captures the blossoming sexuality of a young lesbian girl. It's worth mentioning that IFC Films is the distributor behind Boyhood, so there is certainly an extra benefit for them to let in audiences of all ages.
Boyhood seems like it would be less controversial, as its R-rating doesn't stem from intense, simulated sex scenes. The indie film from director Richard Linklater follows a young boy named Mason, who makes it through a rocky childhood with an alcoholic father (Ethan Hawke) and, eventually, a single mother (Patricia Arquette) as he attempts to define his identity over the course of twelve years. Boyhood carries an R-rating attached to crude language, including sexual references, and teen drug and alcohol usage. There are several implications of spousal abuse as well as domestic unrest, which are no doubt intense for the viewer. Which is sort of the point: it's almost as if the MPAA is penalizing Linklater's movie for being honest.
Of course, we've been down this road before, every time a movie receives a controversial rating. If the movie's any good, years later, people will still be watching and discussing it. And no one will remember what it was rated. Boyhood will begin to expand in the coming weeks. Click here to see when it hits your town.
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