Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Second Time's the Charm?: Precious, Based on the Novel "Push" by Saphire, Queen of the Desert: Part II, The Quickening

I do not own the above image.  Copyright Lionsgate.  All rights reserved.  For entertainment purposes only.

                Every year, there is usually a Best Picture nominee I disagree with.  Some disagreements are small, like LIFE OF PI this year.  A few are huge, like BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD.  In 2009, PRECIOUS, BASED ON THE NOVEL “PUSH” BY SAPHIRE (pretentious much?) took Sundance by storm, followed by the rest of the country in November.  It came to my neck of the woods on the first weekend of December.  You would be hard pressed to find someone who hated the movie more.
                PRECIOUS is a movie about a brutally beaten, abused and lonely teenager Precious Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) living with her mother Mary (Mo’Nique), the welfare queen Ronald Reagan warned us about.  Precious is pregnant (again), raped by her father, sent to an alternative school, is the butt of all jokes about her obesity and will be diagnosed with HIV.  How could this movie be anything but depressing?
                I saw the movie for a second time about three weeks.  And it really is two different movies: one where Mary Jones runs rampant and one where she doesn’t exist.  The latter is just marvelous.  We find out who Precious is.  She is fairly intelligent and loving.  Precious is the type of young lady who would thrive under normal circumstances.  Alas, Precious lives a depressing and torturous life.  All because of her mother.
Just to cut the chase, Mary Jones is a reprehensible thing.  To call her a human is an insult to the bacteria that causes the common cold in human beings.  She runs her household & family like a tyrant.  Mary is the worst kind of villain: one who has no redeeming quality.  No matter how terrible a villain is, we can really say something positive about them.  Hannibal Lector, Dr. Strangelove & Col. Hans Landa all have one thing in common: they are all geniuses.  Mary Jones is a fat, fugly, rude, egotistical bitch.  She is the kind of character, and I use that term loosely for this one note wench, who deserves nothing.  Which makes the final scene even more reprehensible.
Mary meets with Precious and their social worker in the office in order to get her assistance back.  In the scene, Mary spills her guts, talking about everything from the relationship she had with Precious’ father/baby daddy.  She goes into detail about when the bond between herself & Precious, which is only barely covered by pictures during one of the numerous beatings of her daughter, went sour.  In short, Precious was first abused at two or three while Mary & Precious’ father were in the middle of lovemaking.  And Mary, after unsuccessfully (half-assedly) trying to stop it, Mary GETS JEALOUS OF HER DAUGHTER GETTING HER MAN’S ATTENTION!!!  Instead of stopping the discussion, the social worker weakly allows Satan to finish.  And boy, does she finish!  Mary asks for SYMPATHY.  Specifically, she asks “Who’s going to love me?”  With all the truly reprehensible things she has done, including throwing a TV at her daughter and grandson, she gets a chance at redemption.  We all know she wasn’t going to get redeemed, but the fact that the novelist Saphire, screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher & director Lee Daniels would have the audacity of having this monologue and that final line is a joke.  A truly unfunny, worthless, time-wasting joke.
Needless to say, PRECIOUS is not a movie I will ever love.  It has elements and the potential to be loved.  But when I discover a character that is so pathetic & worthless, I regret wasting time and bytes talking about her.  I hope never to think about Mary Jones, or any woman like her who supposedly exists in the real world, ever again.


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