Review: ‘Precious’ is intense, Oscar worthy

November 29th, 2009 at 11:56 pm by under Entertainment

 ”Precious” is a tough pill to swallow… an intense movie about an underprivileged teen victimized by incest, physical and verbal violence, poor education, and no support system… its a powerful story of beating the odds that makes it all worth it in the end.   “Precious” is destined to be on the short list of all the major Oscar categories it is eligible for this year… from acting to directing to writing… to best picture.

A warning though, this movie is not easy to watch and is rated “R” for violence, language, and the very adult themes mentioned above.
"Precious" poster courtesy Lionsgate  

 (My spoiler free review)

Clareece “Precious” Jones is an overweight illiterate teen growing up in Harlem in the late 1980′s… she’s pregnant with her second child… and considering her homelife so far…. aspires just to be “normal”.   Newcomer Gabourey Sidibe is great and convincing as the young woman who puts up with a life so tough that most of us could never imagine, but through one heartbreaking event after another, she still maintains hope for a better life.

Precious’ mother, in an amazingly powerful performance by Mo’Nique, absoultely hates Precious… she despises her daughter in the worst way, verbally and physically abusing her… and subjected her to sexual abuse.   Mo’Nique  transforms in this repulsive, stomach turning role that may go down as one of the most despicable female villians in the history of cinema.   The things that Precious’ mother puts her through is nothing short of cinematic torture.   Its a role that is sure to earn Mo’Nique an Oscar nomination.

Her circumstances are dire, Precious turns to dream sequences when horrible things happen to her… in those daydreams she is the star, people treat her like a celebrity, men love her, and her mother treats her nice.   Also a strong point for Precious is her inner-dialogue that is very smart for as little education as her character has received.

Her mother is oppressive, creating a poisonous environment that makes Precious feel worthless, sometimes leading the teen to wish she would die.

Luckily she stumbles into a support system that wants to help her get out: anchored by an alternative school teacher (Paula Patton) and a social worker (Mariah Carey).   Patton role as teacher “Ms. Rain” inspires and supports Precious – its an inspiring turn by Patton who is very good as the most positive force in Precious’ life.   Its a role that could earn Patton an Oscar consideration.   But she’ll also be competing against Carey, who transforms herself into a plain, hard-nosed social worker that sticks up for Precious, even against her devil of a mother.

Lenny Kravitz and Sheri Shepherd are also virtually unrecognizeable in roles as a male nurse and an alternative school secretary. 

THE BOTTOM LINE:

This movie is the equivilant of bad medicine… forcing you to swallow a concept that is both sickening and good for you all at the same time.  Lee Daniels should be very proud of this movie… I give it 9.0 out of 10 … at many turns, this movie could have gone overboard, but it keeps the intensity and cruelty and hope all at just the right level that pays off in the end. 

"Precious" photo courtesy Lionsgate"Precious" photo courtesy Lionsgate  
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”

(2009) (rated: R for child abuse including sexual assault, and pervasive language)
(1 hr, 50 min)

Starring: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz, Stephanie Andujar, Chyna Layne, Amina Robinson, Xosha Roquemore, Angelic Zambrana, Aunt Dot, Nealla Gordon, Grace Hightower, Barret Helms

Director: Lee Daniels  (“Shadowboxer” (2005))

Genre: Drama

The Plot: In Harlem, an overweight, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction. 

So what did you think?  Please post a comment!

“Precious” poster courtesy Lionsgate

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