Can you have a pure reaction to a movie if you've already heard a thousand opinions about it? Probably not, as the annual conversation cycles of awards season illustrate. It starts with "my god it's amazing!" which quickly turns to "it's everything you've heard it was and more!". Eventually the "I liked it but..." hedging and the angry "it ain't all that!" begins. Well, you know how it goes. You've probably joined in dozens of these conversations yourself.
So we're already nine (!) months into Precious's pre release buzz and the movie is still nearly a month away from opening. I was practically biting my nails before my first screening of Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire last night. How to have a pure reaction when you feel like the last blogger/critic to see it? To calm my nerves before the lights went down -- I was seriously nervous. How silly is that? -- I sketched Clareece "Precious" Jones on my iPhone.
I don't know how "pure" my reaction is, given all that I've heard and read about the movie, but it's a stunner. I fought back tears several times. I left in a daze still enveloped in the movie (always a good sign).
The two central performances are dazzling and very different; Gabourey 'Gabbey' Sidibe gifts the movie with aching naturalism and Mo'Nique's actorly bravado brings the house down ...almost literally as she's very hard on the furniture. The actors shine but, that said, it's not a perfect film. There's too much in the way of gimmicky flourishes for my tastes and maybe too little in the way of pulling it all together in the end in a way that's fair to its own best qualities. But there's something about Precious that just bleeds with feeling and sincerity, its heart pouring into the cracks and sealing them up before there's any chance of the film breaking.
That's vague I know but you're already going to combating months of hype when you see it and I don't want to add to the problem... except perhaps by saying that Mo'Nique has already won the Supporting Actress Oscar. Someone somewhere will try to pretend it's a contest when 2010 rolls around but they'll only be trying to sell magazines or boost page views. Done deal.