David Schwimmer tells me that whether Millennium Entertainment is successful or not in overturning the R rating that the MPAA has given his upcoming film Trust, he will not alter the scenes that prompted the rating on a film about a family trying to deal with every parent’s nightmare: their 14-year old daughter is lured into a rendezvous by an online predator who rapes her.
The ratings board objected to a scene in which the father (Clive Owen), out of his mind with anger and a desire for revenge, plays back the attack in his mind. The images are disturbing. Schwimmer said the scene is powerful, but he was careful in how he shot it.
“There is no nudity, no overt sexuality other that what needed to be implied for a scene in the hotel room where we learn that a rape took place,” Schwimmer told me. “I think the scene was tastefully handled.”
There is profanity. While the ratings board gives leeway to scenes of violence, a couple of F-bombs is the surest way to get an R. That is something The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper discovered after a scene in which Colin Firth uses the word repeatedly to help overcome a debilitating stutter.
Like Hooper, Schwimmer said he won’t alter his film if the appeal is rejected. He feels it will rob the picture of any chance of being taken seriously by young audiences if he makes the changes the ratings board suggested. He also fears that an R rating will stop young audiences which could benefit from the lesson in the film, if they are reluctant to attend with a parent.
“The idea that Clive’s character should respond by shouting ‘Fiddlesticks’ is just not real,” Schwimmer said. “Let’s face it, kids have heard and seen it all. What I find frustrating is there are plenty of films that get PG-13 that are the so violent. There is a double standard. You can’t show nudity or hear the F-word, but you can show people being blown to bits and chopped up. Maybe a public forum will show that the ratings system needs to be updated to reflect the times. It is quite old.”
Millennium’s Avi Lerner will argue the case before the appeal’s board on December 22. He makes his appeal after the ratings board overturned an NC-17 that was given Oscar-contender Blue Valentine. Schwimmer acknowledges that nobody expects a message movie from Millennium. “I tricked them, they heard Clive Owen, Catherine Keener and Viola Davis and said yes,” Schwimmer joked. “Actually, I don’t see Trust as a message movie, it’s a drama that taps into a pressing issue that is important for young people to be able to see.”
The film hits theaters April 1.