I can’t imagine anyone disputing, as I wrote last May in Cannes, that Lee Daniels‘ Precious is an “immensely sad, fully felt and deeply compassionate film.” And I wouldn’t vigorously dispute Roger Ebert‘s 9.19 prediction that Precious became an even likelier Best Picture nominee last weekend after winning the Toronto Film Festival Cadillac audience award (after having won with the same award in Sundance last January).
Mo’Nique in Lee Daniels’ Precious.
But I need to admit what I’ve been saying to myself since Cannes, which is that I have no interest in seeing Precious a second time.
(Note: Most of the Precious plot particulars have been revealed in various reviews, but spoiler whiners need to stop reading now because I’m doing to mention some of them.)
I don’t want to go into that awful apartment building again and watch that grotesque and pathetic monster-mom (Mo’Nique) abuse and torture that immensely unhappy, morbidly obese young girl (Gabby Sidibe), or think again about Mo’Nique allowing her animal boyfriend to have his way with Sidibe, partly out of her resentment toward her daughter and partly due to some revolting quid pro quo imagining that if the boyfriend got what he wanted he’d stay with Mo’Nique.
I’ve watched all kinds of violent and horrific behavior in films, but I’ve never run into anything quite as sadistically cold-blooded as I have in Precious. So I’m done…sorry.
It’s a real-life, lower-depths horror film, is what it is.
During the Toronto Film Festival a reporter from either the Globe & Mail or the Star quoted Good Hair‘s Chris Rock as saying “I can’t watch Precious again.” Maybe he’d already seen it two and three times and felt that was enough, but reading this (can’t find the link) reminded me of my core feelings. Precious is something you watch and go “wow, deeply moving!” and then stay away from for the rest of your life.
I suspect that most of the Precious support is about people wanting to cast (for their own reasons as much as their liking of the film) a symbolic vote for caring and compassion. It’s about people wanting to say to their community and to themselves, “Good God…we have to help someone with an affliction like this and do what we can to symbolically refute the sort of familial abuse that created her pain in the first place.”
This same feeling could possibly carry Sidibe to a Best Supporting Actress nomination…maybe. I’ve also wondered from the start if Mo’Nique is perhaps portraying too much of a monster for people to vote for her. (I’m not saying she doesn’t give the part hell — that confession scene at the end is phenomenal — but I am nursing doubts.) By my sights the most impressive acting in the film is from Mariah Carey because her human-services psychologist or counselor seems so quietly focused and restrained, and of course so un-Carey-like. She’s barely recognizable. And of course she’s an agent of healing, which is another vague plus.