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Unbridled ‘Romance’

Trimark to leave erotic pic unrated

In the wake of the heated debate over the Motion Picture Assn. of America’s ratings and Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut,” Trimark Pictures has elected to distribute Catherine Breillat’s erotic film “Romance” without a rating.

Dennis O’Connor, senior VP of Trimark’s theatrical division, said the decision reflects the company’s concern that an NC-17 rating will hurt the film and that under MPAA guidelines, the company would need to submit its ads and trailers to MPAA for review.

“Today’s audiences don’t know what NC-17 really means,” O’Connor said. “But it certainly ghettoizes the film.”

The pic, scheduled to open Sept. 17 in New York and on Oct. 1 in 10 additional markets, has already garnered favorable reviews in Harpers Bazaar, Vogue and Gear.

“Romance” portrays a young French woman, Marie, on a journey to gain control of her life. When Marie’s boyfriend admits he loves her but has lost desire for her and can no longer engage in sexual relations with her, Marie desperately searches for intimacy and erotic connection — testing her own physical and emotional limits.

With cinematic echoes of Nagisa Oshima’s “In the Realm of the Senses” and Bernardo Bertolucci’s “Last Tango in Paris” (in which Breillat appeared), the film proved scandalous in France, where it opened in April, using an advertising poster featuring a naked woman with her hand covering her crotch.

Echoing Good Machine’s tactics with “Happiness” (which also went to theaters unrated), Trimark hopes to position “Romance” as a film for adults driven by favorable critical reception.

Emphasizing that “Romance” is an art film and not a movie that delights in erotic images for their own sake, Trimark has organized retrospectives of French filmmaker Breillat’s work (including “36 Fillette” and “Tapage Nocture”) at such venues as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Anthology Film Archives in New York.

Trimark has already launched a set of provocative trailers for “Romance” prior to screenings of “The Blair Witch Project.” Print ads featuring a naked woman and the tag line “Love is desolate, romance is temporary, and sex is forever,” are expected to run in newspapers before the release.

Trimark has also partnered with an adult Web site, which will feature a more risque version of the theatrical trailer on the Internet.

“Romance” has been selected as an official entry at the Toronto Film Festival.

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