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November 11, 2009




Thank you for the review.


Thank you for this review, and especially your observations on the "guilty white" argument. As a professional performing artist of color myself, I ask the same question you posited over and over:

"...but I do wonder what would have made these people happy. (Just not telling this character's story?)"

Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Hi Rich, can you go see & review Richard Kelly's "The Box." So curious what you would think... I almost need your interpretation. You're the man.

Pinky Lovejoy

I saw this film at Sundance and was completely disturbed. Everyone raved about it to no end, but I know I'll never be able to watch it again. Once was enough. Yes, I thought the actors were fantastic (specifically Gabourey and Mo'Nique - as a side note, I was able to meet both of them and they were incredibly sweet), but the film was not the greatest thing I've ever seen. Thank you for your honest review. :)


I bought several copies of Push when it first came out for my students (I'm a high school librarian). I can't tell you how many copies I've had to replace throughout the years because of wear and tear. It has also caused a lot of controversy and censorship challenges (ironically by teachers), but I have a huge population of black female students who read urban fiction and to see them so excited about a movie because they READ THE BOOK makes confronting book challenges worthwhile. Yes, the story is at times revolting and difficult to read, but it is ultimately hopeful and has given hope to many of my girls who have lived with abuse. Thank you for the review, Rich!!


can i just say that i'm glad that YOU got the ntozake shange reference!


I really want to see this, and your review made me even more intrigued. Thank you!


Fabulous, nuanced review--i have the worst crush on your brain!


i just noticed, in lee daniels' brilliant masterwork, shadowboxer, mo'nique plays a character named precious.
sounds like he got a good performance out of her this time. i am curious to see this.


Great film review - but an even better critic review.


Once again you prove you're a leterary genius.
Write a book.
You're incredible


Thanks, Rich.... I love you even more. As a black woman who is perpetually annoyed about "white folks" not "getting it".... well I don't even know where I was going with that but I love you much.

Haven't even seen the movie or read the book. I'm an avid reader but something about this story is heartbreaking and going through what I've been going through, even the cover song and trailer make me tear up. I can't seem bring myself to to subject myself to something that's going to make me cry through the entire thing. But your review let me know there are some bright points, so I will stop being a coward, strong black woman up, and check it out... the book AND the movie.

And what you know about ntzoke shange? I've got to go see it just because there's a reference. Thanks!


"It's pretty hard to heal when you're embarrassed and I think a film like Precious can help diminish that embarrassment, however slightly."



You are awesome Rich. Your reviews are so insanely smart and good.

Monica C.

Thank you for this review. Very few mainstream movies interest me (I prefer documentaries - like you!), but I plan to see this one.


I'm not sure I can stomach seeing this movie. It might be too much like listening to "Luka" by Suzanne Vega. As an ex-child abuse investigator & social worker, it might bring back old memories - ones I'd like to forget. It would just certify to me, that we as a nation, promote these problems, which are too numerous (the promotions) to go into here. But, I think for regular Americans, it's probably a good movie to see. I've seen the promos and interviews and read articles, as well. I want to see it. Maybe I'll watch it in the privacy of my home, when it's offered for rental / iTunes. For now, I hope it educates people about how others subsist.

And Rich, your remark about how everyone's just trying to survive, including the service workers-so right. It's a frustrating system. Everyone makes do, in his/her own way.


I'm terrified to see this movie, but excited. Not sure I can see it in public, since I predict my turning into a giant, weepy mess.
I read the book years ago for a class and it just killed me. Amazing book, amazing characterizations, and some very hard truths.
In the book, when Precious is abused by her father, she talks about the physical pleasure that comes from it. That is a hard thing to read (and I got slammed in my women's studies class for bringing it up) but it's important and it's true. That's part of what causes the emotional pain and confusion. It's not discussed much, but sapphire was brave enough to put in there, in the character's own words.

Also, great review.


Please do not minimize the people who aren't thrilled with this film. "Black girl who's been raped and impregnated by her father" is a horrifyingly common trope in African-American literature. The mentality that views such media as "poverty porn" is legit and shouldn't be discounted because you fancy yourself enlightened; I'm also not sure that you, as a male, are capable of internalizing the grossness of rape as something that's so casually thrown around as a go-to plot device when a writer wants to achieve a false sort of depth. Do stories like Precious have literary/filmic value? Of course. Is there a need for a different kind of story about black girls? Absolutely.


Previous commenter (hi), I think you are minimizing the people who are thrilled with this film when you say Rich likes to "fancy himself an intellectual." You can disagree with the views expressed in this review all you want, but I don't think you should mock Rich just because you have a different opinion.

I don't think the rape/incest theme is casually thrown around in this film. This film certainly wasn't made with the intention of cashing in on any desire for "poverty porn."


Great piece here. I love your comments about Mo'Nique's monologue in the stairwell. I saw the film a second time this weekend almost just to see that scene once again. And her monologue in the film's final scene is right on par. This is one of the best supporting female performance I've ever seen.


I just got back from watching the movie and was impressed. The film didn't feel at all exploitative of the circumstances and it was just so raw and powerful it had me feeling for most of the characters.

A side note: "Mongo" was so adorable! It was so mean Precious called her that . . .

Another side note: Even though I didn't agree with everything "hi" wrote, I could see where they were coming from and completely agreed with their final point about the need for different stories about black girls.

Mountain Lion

LaBelle is Patti Labelle's last name

Labelle is the group with Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx, and Sarah Dash.


I felt the ending was more like Ibsen's A Doll House, in that the only step Precious could make was a baby step. Getting away from her mother is the same thing as Nora slamming the door on her husband and family life. It's a big first step on a path that will be nothing but struggles and pain for the forseeable future.


MB, I think hi's only point was the final sentence, just that other types of stories about black women besides tragic lives of poverty and struggle should be popularized as well. How about some nice stories about generally emotionally stable, middle-class accountants living in the suburbs with problems with the in-laws? I'm sorta tired of brilliant commentary on social "issues" anyway. Let's go watch some soccer. The US men's national team lost an exhibition match to Slovakia this weekend and I'm still in mourning.


I don't know, maybe I'm just too jaded or read the book along with The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, but Push read more like Frank McCort or some other put-upon, woe-is-me and I found hilarity in her abuse, pregnancies, and, well, life.
Maybe it won't be so funny when I see people acting it out on the screen . . . like Heart is Deceitful wasn't funny on the screen.

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