Friday, March 05, 2010



An uncommonly resonant yet perpetually exasperating experience. Lee Daniels is astonishingly sensitive and incisive in the handling of his actresses. But he is staggeringly inarticulate when it comes to every other facet of directing. Entire flashbacks and fantasy sequences are woefully misconceived (not to mention, crudely shoved in), but more frustrating is the way Daniels lets several of the searing centrepiece monologues crumble to nothing as soon as they climax. He has no sense – or at least, a warped sense - of structure, pace, or how to organically foster a desired visual dynamism. Perhaps he recognizes and mistrusts the simplistic, didactic melodrama that is the film’s core. But a simplistic, didactic yet exasperatingly flashy melodrama is by no means a step up.

That the film packs an emotional punch – and boy, does it ever – in the end has nothing to do with the pyrotechnics and everything to do with the blunt, withering force of the actresses. With remarkable precision Mo’nique reassesses the monster she is given to play as a recognisably human (and devastatingly fucked up) being. As her daughter, first-timer Gabourey Sidibe is saddled with an incoherent Harlem cliché, but instead portrays something generously detailed and infinitely more alive. Even Mariah Carey (!) rises above an embarrassing makeup job to present perhaps American cinema’s first ever believable welfare worker.

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At 2:26 AM , Blogger Paul Martin said...

perhaps American cinema’s first ever believable welfare worker

I had to smile when I read that. Nice description, Goran.

At 2:28 AM , Blogger Paul Martin said...

Perhaps I should mention that I liked the film less than you. Sure, the performances are amazing and there could be an Oscar win, but I hated the experience of watching the film and felt unwell coming out of the cinema. For me, it's a social realism done like torture porn. And bleak social realism is among my favourite types of films.

At 4:33 PM , Blogger Y Kant Goran Rite said...

Oh, I don't necessarily disagree. In fact I feel very dirty for responding to it as much as I did.


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