May 15 2009

Mariah Arrives in Cannes with 'Precious'

< > The 62nd annual Cannes Film Festival welcomed today director Lee Daniels and cast members of the film Precious including Mariah Carey, Gabourey Sibide, Lenny Kravitz and Paula Patton. The film, winner of three awards at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival will play tonight in the official selection of the Cannes Film Festival - Un Certain Regard. Below are photos from the film’s photocall and luncheon in Cannes, France and early film reviews.

Mariah appeared in front of reporters alongside her co-stars in the gritty, urban drama here at Cannes on Friday after a smashing debut at last January's Sundance Film Festival. In the film, she portrays a welfare case worker to a young, overweight teenager, Precious, whose life in the ghetto is hard.

To perform in the part, the glamorous Carey stripped down to her basic self and was required to wear no makeup except that which gave her dark circles under her eyes and made her look weary and worn. Yet Carey said it was among the best work she could have imagined.

"Doing it... was exhausting, exhilarating and it was just an honor," Mariah told reporters at Cannes.

Her director, Lee Daniels, said she plays entirely against type, and watching her perform - along with those of another music star Lenny Kravitz, comedian Mo'Nique and newcomer Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe" - will be a unique experience for her fans. "Mariah has never played this type before," said Daniels.

The movie came out of Sundance, at that time under a working title called "Push: Based on the novel by Sapphire") with an award and Oscar buzz. U.S. audiences can look for it on November 6, and international audiences will see it as it rolls out country by country.

The New York Post:
[Precious] is heartbreaking. Even the trailer will make you tear up. There's simply no avoiding the emotions. So find the nearest tissue or shirt sleeve and watch the brilliance unfold.

Michael Glitz, The Huffington Post:
[Precious] captures the pugnacious, dreaming, hopeful tone of the book by Sapphire very well and contains a clutch of good performances, including the lead (Gabourey Sidibe), Mariah Carey (!) and especially Mo'Nique as Precious's hateful mother. She's so good it's possible she'll even get an Oscar nomination. I can't wait to see the next film by Daniels. It's called Tennessee and it stars Carey. So there.

Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post:
As Ms. Weiss, Mariah Carey is a linchpin in the story, bearing witness to unspeakable breaches of faith Precious has been forced to endure. Carey's frank, unblinking performance is so free of mannerism and vanity that it literally takes a few moments to realize that it's her on screen. And it's all the more remarkable considering she joined the film's cast only three days before filming.

"I said, just let me kind of peel layers away of who the world thinks I am and even I personally think I am as a performer, and really, truly become this woman, who has a large responsibility," Carey said here today . "In a way, she is the audience, she is that shocked person who hears about what goes on and has to bare her soul because she's hearing something so horrific that she's never heard before." Even with such a daunting role and on such short notice, Carey says, she was confident she could do it. "Because I know that there's a creative side of me that needs to do work like this, and I trust Lee so much that I felt that there was no way we couldn't pull something out we could both be proud of."

Mo'Nique is already being touted as a probable Oscar nominee for her performance as Mary (she couldn't be in Cannes due to commitments to BET and her children, but she taped "Oprah" earlier this week). But with a well-timed release late in the year, "Precious" might bring Carey a nomination, too. It couldn't have escaped either woman's notice that Daniels shepherded Halle Berry to her Oscar win in 2002, for "Monster's Ball."

Elizabeth Renzetti, The Globe and Mail:
Oprah Winfrey is one of the producers of Precious, which is based on the autobiographical novel Push by Sapphire. There's a familiar triumph-through-adversity message and the whole thing does threaten to drown in its own pain, but it's saved by the performances, not least a strong cameo by an almost unrecognizable Mariah Carey, makeup- and diamond-free, as a social worker who's seen it all.

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