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Banned in the U.S.A.

Thursday, December 17, 1992
Henry & June
Philip Kaufman USA, 1990

For some, experience is a confirmation of corporeal existence; for others, it's the raw material of the spirit. Henry & June celebrates the latter, following the exploits of writers Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin in the Paris of the 1930s. Adapted from Nin's book, this intellectualized account envisions the famed authors as adventurers in the skin trade. Here, art is the act of converting a caress into a phrase. Between Henry (Fred Ward) and Anaïs (Maria de Medeiros) stands the menacing and voluptuous June (Uma Thurman), Henry's wife. For a time, the bedding is emboldened by June and Anaïs. But heterosexual love has no primacy-beyond the embrace of man or woman lies the possibility of art. And it is this possibility that electrifies Henry & June, giving it an odd innocence in its embrace of eros. In 1990, the heated debate over the MPAA's rating system came to full boil. Henry & June was among several distinguished films given the distribution-stifling X-and the one to make MPAA president Jack Valenti announce a new NC-17 rating.

• Written by Philip Kaufman, Rose Kaufman, based on the book by Anaïs Nin. Photographed by Philippe Rousselot. With Fred Ward, Uma Thurman, Maria de Medeiros, Richard E. Grant. (140 mins, Color, 35mm, From Swank)