Steve McQueen's 'Shame' is Now Officially Rated NC-17 by the MPAA

October 26, 2011
Source: SlashFilm

Steve McQueen's Shame

Is anyone surprised? The MPAA has officially rated (via RopeofSilicon) Steve McQueen's Shame, the "dark and erotic" New York City sex addict drama starring Michael Fassbender that debuted at the Telluride Film Fest (my review) and was picked up that weekend by Fox Searchlight, as NC-17. Earlier this year, I got in numerous discussions about whether or not the film, filled with full-frontal nudity and sex galore, would actually get an NC-17 or slip by with an R, but as expected, its been giving the "worst of the worst" - NC-17 (no children under 17 admitted at all). But Fox Searchlight is wearing this rating as a badge of honor.

A couple of weeks ago, when interviewed about the film and expected rating, Fox Searchlight's co-president Steve Gilula said, "I think NC-17 is a badge of honor, not a scarlet letter. We believe it is time for the rating to become usable in a serious manner… The sheer talent of the actors and the vision of the filmmaker are extraordinary. It's not a film that everyone will take easily, but it certainly breaks through the clutter and is distinctive and original. It's a game changer." Having seen it, I can say that's for damn sure. And only a talented, smart, art house studio like Fox Searchlight could turn the rating like this into something that is creating buzz for the film itself. Could this turn out to be the first NC-17 success in years? Only time will tell.

Fox Searchlight currently has Shame set to hit limited theaters starting December 2nd this fall, with an awards season expansion as long as buzz is strong. Now that they have the official NC-17 rating, they have to be careful with marketing it. They can only show trailers in front of other R-rated movies, I don't know if they're even allowed to advertise on TV at all, and they'll have plenty of other restrictions under the watchful and controlling eye of the MPAA. But I'm excited to see how this all plays out, especially because Shame is one of my favorite films of the year, NC-17 rating or otherwise, and I hope everyone gets the chance to see it.

Find more posts: Indies, Movie News, Opinions



NC-17 is always viewed under a negative light so I agree that it's time to embrace it rather that shy away from it and trying to get a lower rating, however a big studio film will always go with the latter. As long it's quality films such as Shame and not any typical torture porn movie I don't mind with it being NC-17. Some films are just for the more mature audience.

Crockett on Oct 26, 2011


I have to agree. In the end, the rating exists. And if the content of the film fits, wear it! Don't change the film.  Honestly, its a hideous double standard. Movies like Harold and Kumar and SAW are just filthy and hideous but somehow, kids, because that's what they are, kids, are allowed to go with an adult. 

Miguel Angel on Oct 26, 2011


It doesn't hinder the film. It's only getting a limited release, which means the audiences that have it on their radar will know about it without having to see trailers on TV or any other standard form of marketing. They will hear about it through the film circuit.  I disagree that the film has frontal nudity and sex galore.

VVS on Oct 26, 2011


How can you "disagree"? I've seen it, and I'm stating that as fact. Fassbender walks around naked most of the time, even Carey Mulligan has a full frontal nude scene. And there's sex throughout. Again, I don't understand how you can "disagree" with that.

Alex Billington on Oct 26, 2011


I can disagree because I also saw the film. He was only completely naked in the first 5 minutes which are intercut with a subway sequence. So those 5 minutes don't entirely focus on his nude body. Carey Mulligan's bush is shown from the side. but these moments don't amount to "galore"

VVS on Oct 26, 2011


Look, I stated "filled with full-frontal nudity and sex galore" - there is way more nudity than you're referring to in those scenes, including a sex scene later on with the prostitute after he can't hook up with that other girl. As for the term "galore" it is specifically used after the word "sex" because there is a large amount of sex, including the aforementioned window scene and plenty more. I know what I am talking about, please do not make ridiculous claims like this just to attract attention.

Alex Billington on Oct 26, 2011


Pft, That is a shame. BUT then again, more mature audiences will be able to see it and actually care for it. While all the wimps will restrain and leave their stupid "OMG HE IS NEKKID" comments that would destroy the movie.

Katieyumm on Oct 26, 2011


However I just don't get how the MPAA put ratings on the movies. Is a full-frontal shots of both Fassbender and Mulligan and that it has explicit sexual content enough to warrant it a NC-17 rating? In my opinion I don't think so, a R-rating should actually be enough. It being rated NC-17 could get people's curiosity piqued but MPAA should really revisit on what guarantees a film a NC-17 rating, the thing is it's the sexual content they're always sensitive about.

Crockett on Oct 26, 2011


Have you seen This Film is Not Yet Rated? They tend to give the NC-17 rating to indie films and give big studio films an R, even if the content is exactly the same. 

Traveler on Oct 26, 2011


I've heard of it but I haven't seen it yet, what you mentioned is intriguing so I'll take a look at it, thanks for the recommendation. 

Crockett on Oct 26, 2011


Marketing at its best.

Pilgrim_UK on Oct 26, 2011


It's unfortunate that NC-17 is viewed under a negative light.  Hopefully this starts a trend of using this rating for adult-targeted films without the studios being afraid of poor box-office performance.  I'm 27 and go to the movies every week.  I've been to rated R movies plenty of times and wondered why so many kids were present.  There's a good chance they will be giggling or doing something to ruin my experience.  It just doesn't make sense to see a 11 year old kid covering her face and crying when something violent happens.  Especially if the parents are refusing to leave. 

MarcA on Oct 26, 2011


I applaud Fox Searchlight and I really hope this doesn't flop like the last few NC-17s we got. Thank God some studio grew some balls and raped those motherfuckers at the MPAA!

Davide Coppola on Oct 27, 2011



Jrp7sen on Oct 28, 2011

New comments are no longer allowed on this post.



Subscribe to our feed -or- daily newsletter:
Follow Alex's main account on twitter:
For the latest posts only - follow this one:

Add our updates to your Feedly - click here

Get the latest posts sent in Telegram Telegram