The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete is a heart breaker. It follows two boys, 13-year-old Mister (Skylan Brooks) and 9-year-old Pete (Ethan Dizon) who are left on their own in public housing one blistering hot NYC summer, facing constant hunger and the looming threats of nasty drug dealers and a group home with a terrible rep. It’s all clearly the fault of their drug-addicted prostitute mothers, one of whom is played with gritty realism by Jennifer Hudson. If it’s hard for us to watch, what was it like for Hudson, mother of 4-year-old David Daniel Otunga Jr., to act?
“It’s unimaginable,” Hudson told us of being a mother like Gloria, who lets her son see her shoot heroin and turn tricks in a restaurant bathroom. “I had those moments, like, ‘Wow, this is real.’ I couldn’t dare do that. Everything she sent her son through, or how she left him alone, or how she even talked to him, treated him. It was difficult for me as a mom. I was like, ‘Oh my god, I shouldn’t be saying this to a child!’ ”
Most of the film (which opens Friday, October 11) follows Mister and Pete in the aftermath of Gloria’s arrest. It could have looked like an urban version of Home Alone if it weren’t for the very believable, scary moments when starvation or worse seem possible. Gradually, we see it dawn on the boys that their mothers might not be coming back to take care of them.
Alicia Keys, who executive produced the movie and wrote its score, had poetic way of describing Gloria’s struggle with motherhood.
“It’s extremely difficult to watch, because you see how she’s not only hurting herself, but definitely hurting her son,” Keys told us. “And you wish that she wouldn’t, but she does, and she wishes she wouldn’t but she does, and he wishes that she wouldn’t but she does. And that’s part of the complexities of life.”