We caught Lee Daniels's buzzy Push last night in a sold-out midnight screening. Push is an impressive accomplishment—a female-driven, inner-city drama featuring several astonishing performances, first and foremost being unknown Gabourey Sabide's Precious.
Mo'nique should also be singled out—playing Precious's sociopathic mother, she's created one of the most terrifying and memorable screen villains in recent film. The abuse she heaps upon her overweight, pregnant (by her own father) teenage daughter eventually becomes too much to bear, however. By the time we meet Mongo— her first child played by an actual baby with Down Syndrome—we couldn't help but feel the film had taken a turn towards the exploitative.
At the post-screening Q&A, Daniels was asked what drew him to the material, to which he responded, "The truth. The light. And my own racism. I had [preconceptions] about people who were blacker than I was. And about obese people. I had prejudices against obese people—I assumed they were dumb, and smelled. But I can tell you now," and he gestured towards Gabourey, "Gabby is smarter and cleaner than I am."
Um—okay. Benjamin Bratt, meanwhile—in town for his own movie LaMISSION—sat next to us, and looked pretty devastated when the lights came up. He just sort of sat there, fingers pressed to his mouth, shaking his head for a good long while. We know the feeling.