8:00 PM, 22nd May, 2010
This is a big movie, with no poster child.
Claireece Precious Jones (first-timer Sidibe), a Harlem teenager, goes by her middle name; which seems a cruel taunt since nearly everyone around her thinks she’s worthless and lets her know it. She is sixteen, morbidly obese, functionally illiterate and pregnant for the second time to her own father.
Casting pop stars and media personalities together with novice actors, director Lee Daniels has created a very powerful adaptation of Sapphire’s 1996 novel depicting not only the sorrowful, dark and ugly depths of child abuse in a squalid environment, but also the moments of joy, hope and belonging, together with the fantasy and humour of Precious’s rich imaginary life.
Mo’Nique’s performance, as the menacing monster of a mother, has been called one of the standout performances of the year. She delivers profane, terrifying tirades, culminating in a monologue as painful and heartbreaking as any ever filmed. Her character would seem to have no redeeming features; with her smoking, cursing, channel surfing, baby tossing, munching of pigs’ feet and throwing televisions down the stairs; but Mo’Nique gives tremendous life to this dead soul – making you wonder where her own misery sprouted from.
This is a movie about survival. Precious punishes the audience with scene after scene of squalor and hopelessness, but you will be rewarded for hanging in until the end. Those who believe in the power of great acting and its ability to transform a film will not want to miss this.
10:05 PM, 22nd May, 2010
Nominated for 4 AFI Awards in 2009, Blessed is Australian drama at its best – but be prepared, for this movie doesn’t hold back. It deals with a number of confronting subjects and explores with searing honesty the most primal of relationships: those between mothers and children.
Blessed is in fact six stories and follows a day and night in the life of six families (perhaps dysfunctional or Maybe quite average in the scheme of things) in suburban Australia – firstly from the perspective of the child/teenager, and then from the perspective of the mother. The stellar cast includes Otto (as poker machine addicted Bianca), Furness (as Tanya, whose relationship with her husband is cold as ice), O’Connor (as the pregnant welfare dependent Rhonda) and Victoria Haralabidou (as the zealously religious Gina) as the mothers; and newcomers Sophie Lowe (Katrina), Anastasia Baboussouras (Trisha), Harrison Gilbertson (Daniel), Eamon Farron (Roo), Reef Ireland (Orton) and Eva Lazzaro (Stacey), as the children. Every single one of them give honest, first rate performances.
There is always something bad happening and an impeding sense that something REALLY bad is going to happen which eventually manifests, but not at all as one might expect, keeping the tension tight throughout the movie.
A notable grief scene with Frances O’Connor (who won the AFI for Best Lead Actress) is remarkably moving and rates highly alongside Abbie Cornish’s grief scene at the end of Bright Star [also on this semester’s programme – Ed]. Tissues, or someone close by with an arm or hand to squeeze, are strongly recommended.