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Back Seat Producers

We Don’t Make Movies, But We’ll Let You Know What Is and Isn’t Working in Hollywood.

BSP Episode 231: Precious, based on the novel Push by Sapphire

ByTony

Jun 11, 2012

Release date:  11/6/2009

Lionsgate

Directed by

  • Lee Daniels

Produced by

  • Lee Daniels
  • Gary Magness
  • Sarah Siegel-Magness
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Tom Heller
  • Tyler Perry

Screenplay by

  • Geoffrey S. Fletcher

Based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire

Cast

Gabourey Sidibe

  • Precious

Mo’Nique

  • Mary

Paula Patton

  • Ms. Rain

 

In honor of the passing of Ray Bradbury (and keeping with the Recently Dead Guy Podcast convention), our next movie review will be Fahrenheit 451.

Also, before the hosts dig into the movie, all of you lucky home-listeners get a nice little history less about the naming of movies and the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America).  There may or may not be a test at the end of the movie review.

 

Initial comments by the hosts:

Darrell thought it was a movie worth watching, but not worth watching twice.  Lena really liked it and was pleasantly surprised by how good Mo’Nique was, and she probably would watch it again, although there were definitely parts that were tough to get through.  Tony thought it was a great movie but it was hard to watch because of the subject matter.  The way this very tense and uncomfortable subject was written and portrayed was very visceral and real.  Darrell classified it as one emotional punch right after the other.

Gabourey Sidibe, in her first major role, and Mo’Nique, who was known solely as a stand-up comedienne and from her roles in various comedies, both turned in fantastic performances as Precious and her mother, Mary.  Darrell was amazed at how raw and brutal Mo’Nique portrayed Mary.  All of the hosts liked Lenny Kravitz’s role as Nurse John and Mariah Carey’s role as Ms. Weiss.  They liked how both characters were humble and understated.

The language used in the movie was rough and raw, but completely necessary for both the area that the characters lived in and the time frame of the movie (1987).  Lena asked the hosts what they thought of Precious’ fantasy/dream sequences.  Darrell thought some of them were a little weird but understood what they were trying to accomplish.  The most telling one, they all agreed, was the fantasy where Precious was looking at herself in her bedroom mirror but the reflection that comes back to her is of a thin, white, rich girl.

The conversation turned to what Tony rightly called the elephant in the room… not just the fact that it was a “rapey” movie, but fact that Precious was repeatedly raped by her father (it was also mentioned that her grandfather raped her, as well) and impregnated twice by her father.  Mary (Mo’Nique) had a monologue at the end of the movie in which she explained what her life was and what she was upset about, which was mind-blowing, to say the very least.  That scene left the viewer running through every emotion during her 15-20 monologue, even to the point of almost feeling sorry for her, or possibly, having a little bit of empathy for her.  Even though Mary is seen as a purely evil character (and she pretty much is), you begin to see traces of humanity and pain.  The difference, though, is that Precious had no say in the unspeakable things that happened to her, but Mary did, and regardless of the fact that Mary was also damaged by it, she still could have stopped what happened to her daughter.

The way that Precious began her journey into self-discovery was handled very well, it was a slow progression and very real.  There was no light-bulb or Ah-ha moment, there were small steps taken over time as Precious began to realize that she was more than she had always been told she was.

Darrell wrapped up the review by stating that if you want to see a movie that’s raw, plays with your emotions, punches you in the face and then makes you feel good about it afterwards, this is the movie to see.

Trivial bits and pieces:

Precious was shot in five weeks.

During the scene in which Precious slaps a fellow student for calling her fat, Sidibe was instructed to slap the other actress as hard as she could, and the other actresses were not told about the slap beforehand, so their reactions were all unrehearsed and real.

The Awards for Precious (this is an abridged listing):

Mo’Nique

  • Academy Award
  • Critics Choice Award
  • Golden Globe Award
  • Independent Spirit Award
  • NAACP Image Award
  • Screen Actors Guild Award
  • Sundance Film Festival – Special Jury Prize

Gabourey Sidibe

  • Independent Spirit Award
  • NAACP Image Award
  • National Board of Review Award

Geoffrey Fletcher

  • Academy Award
  • Independent Spirit Award
  • NAACP Image Award

Lee Daniels

  • Independent Spirit Award
  • NAACP Image Award

Precious

  • American Film Institute Award (10 Best Movies of 2009)
  • Independent Spirit Award
  • NAACP Image Award

Your Producers for this episode were:

  • Tony
  • Darrell
  • Lena

This episode was recorded: 6/6/2012

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