In a 5.15 HuffPosting, Dana Kennedy writes that Precious costar Mo’Nique “could take Meryl Streep in an Oscar bar fight one-handed — and clean the floor with her. She scared me to death [as] the monstrous mother of an obese Harlem teenager and incest victim named Precious (an excellent Gabourey Sidibe.)
“For most of the movie, Mo’Nique is seated in an armchair in her grim apartment like a black female Dr. Evil, ordering Precious around like a servant, insulting her with the worst vitriol, forcing her to overeat — and occasionally getting up to slam her head against the wall. Mo’Nique felt so dangerous it was as if she might step out of the screen and come punch me in the face any minute.”
But Kennedy doesn’t mention Mo’Nique’s final clincher scene, shared with Sidibe and Mariah Carey in a welfare office — a scene that is pathetic, ghastly and yet emotionally wide open. Mo’Nique tries to explain how she’s “not a monster” and that she allowed her longtime boyfriend to abuse Precious from early childhood on because she didn’t have the strength to tell him not to touch her daughter and that she paradoxically came to resent Precious for diverting his interest away from her. The scene is horrific and disgusting, but unforgettable for the way Mo’Nique makes you feel just a smidgen of sympathy. (But no more than that.)
The scene made me question why director Lee Daniels never acquaints the viewer with the boyfriend-rapist-father in any depth.
It seems likely, in any case, that Mo’Nique will get some Best Supporting Actress heat out of this. Certainly with the critics groups. Older conservative Academy members might just turn off to the whole thing. But there’s no mistaking that Precious is finally about caring and compassion.