Opening night at the 32nd Mill Valley Film Festival, and what a great start. Precious is adapted from the novel Push by Sapphire. I haven’t read the book, and I’m glad my memory is so bad that I didn’t remember anything from the overly narrative film-festival program. I went in blind, and I won’t ruin it for you. Precious is a 16-year old obese black girl growing up in Harlem. Her life sucks, and this is the story of that roller coaster. If that sounds boring or not your cup of tea, you’re probably wrong. This film has it all. Superb in every category: direction by Lee Daniels (Monster’s Ball), script, cinematography, editing, music and some of the best performances this year. Gabourey ‘Gabby’ Sidibe’s only previous role (she told us) was as a pirate in a college production of Peter Pan. She’ll blow you away. Paula Patton is also great. But the Oscar goes to Mo’Nique who plays Precious’ mother. I had to remind myself she wasn’t the real thing. As Lee Daniels said after the screening, you won’t forgive her, but you will understand her. (Daniels also deserves an Oscar nomination for this film.)
Lee Daniels gave me the impression this would be marketed by Lion’s Gate as a black film to black audiences. I hope I misunderstood him. It’s so much more than that. A limited opening in the U.S. is set for November 6. You’ll have to look for this one, but it’s worth it.