Saturday, January 02, 2010
"PRECIOUS" and "THE MESSENGER"
From Despair to Hope
Two powerful, acclaimed films, "Precious," and, "The Messenger," have heart-achingly honest performances that express the strength of the human spirit to move through despair to hope.
The synopsis of, "Precious," couldn't be more depressing. Precious, (Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe) an obese thirteen year old, is pregnant for the second time with her father's child. Her mother (Mo'Nique) treats her as less than a servant, beating her and constantly reminding her that she is nothing. We get a glimpse of the girl's spirit as Precious escapes into her dreams of being a glamorous star. At school Precious is pretty much invisible aside from being teased for her weight. But there is one teacher who recognizes her potential in math. When Precious is kicked out of school, he recommends that she be placed in a alternative school. Her new teacher (Paula Patton) asks Precious how she felt about introducing herself to the class and Precious says she feels, "Here." The teacher assigns her a journal where she expresses herself for the first time. Precious finds the strength to get an education and keep her baby even as the abuse intensifies at home.
It is a minor miracle and a credit to director Lee Daniels, screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher, and actress Gabby Sidibe that you leave the theater actually feeling hopeful. The film demonstrates the transforming power of having one person - in this case a teacher - who believes in you. Precious illustrates the strength of the human spirit to survive extreme abuse and find hope.
In, "In the Messenger," war "hero" Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) returns from Iraq and is assigned to the Army's casualty notification service. He has not gotten any grief counseling since receiving his own battle wounds - just a quick lesson in protocol from his jaded partner Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson) who instructs the soldier to avoid physical contact or hugging the N.O.K. (next of kin.) Ben assures him, "I'm not going to be offering any hugs."
Will has come home to a lonely apartment and an empty life. (When he went off to war he broke up with his girlfriend.) He diligently carries out his duty, but the grief of the families of the deceased hits close to home. He finds himself drawn to a widow with a brave facade. Her husband's story brings out his own neglected issues. Will his "war scars" heal so he can be a decent husband and father? Or should he reenlist because war is the only thing he is still good for? Somehow he finds the strength to choose life. "The Messenger," shows the resiliency of the human spirit to move through grief to hope.
Mo'Nique won Best Supporting Actress, Geoffrey Fletcher won Best Adapted Screenplay