On paper, the new movie “Precious” doesn’t sound like much fun: It’s the story of a 350-pound, illiterate black teenager impregnated for the second time by her dad and physically and verbally abused by her mom. It’s enough to send a girl galloping into the next showing of lighter fare like “Couples Retreat”! But the film industry buzz for “Precious”—from the illustrious Cannes Film Festival to this week’s cover of The New York Times Magazine — says the film is not to be missed. There’s even buzz about an Oscar for Mo’Nique, who stars as Precious’ monstrous mother, as well as accolades for the rest of the cast, including Mariah Carey, Paula Patton, Gabby Sidibe, and Lenny Kravitz. When director/producer Lee Daniels (“Monster’s Ball,” “The Woodsman”) spoke with the Times magazine this weekend, he revealed his many insecurities about the movie. “To be honest, I was embarrassed to show this movie at Cannes,” he said. “I didn’t want to exploit black people.” One of his biggest concerns was the so-called statement he could be making about black women through the portrayal of Precious’ horrific mother. The black community has already complained, he continued, explaining, “They see the film as negative to black women. Black women are the pillar of the family. Black men have left, and how dare I stab at the one thing that’s helped.” But Daniels and Mo’Nique both strongly felt that telling Precious’ story (based on the novel Push, by Sapphire) was more important than being PC.
I, for one, am very interested to see a mainstream film about the types of people Hollywood largely ignores: poor, black, obese, uneducated, and sexually abused. And, of course, Mariah Carey without makeup. [New York Times Magazine]