Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire Reviews
"Life is hard. Life is short. Life is painful. Life is rich. Life is... Precious."
Feel good entertainment Precious is not. This is a film of excruciating heartache and depression. The story of Precious Jones is not one that will make you happy. What it will do is make you feel compassion for a character that has gone through terrible things, yet tries to better her life and make changes, not just for herself, but for her kids also. The film is painful to watch, as it is relentless in telling the story of Precious. Lee Daniels directs it with incredible subtlety when you look at the material. It could have been handled in a more over the top way, but Daniels does a perfect job in balancing everything out. Where the film takes off is with the performances. There isn't a bad one in the film. Monique obviously won an Oscar for her superb performance, but there were a few others that were nearly as good.
Precious(the film) tells the story of Precious(the 16 year old girl). Precious lives in poverty with a mother that is physically and emotionally abusive. She also is pregnant with her second child. If it isn't bad enough that a 16 year old girl would have two kids; they both are the result of her father raping her. Precious is kicked out of her normal school for being pregnant and finds refuge in an alternative school and a teacher that pushes her to learn and to change her life. The synopsis tells it all. This is not the sort of story you watch for enjoyment. It should take an emotional toll on you. It sure did me. Going away from the subject material, there is a lot to like in the way the making of the film was handled. Lee Daniels direction is solid. I love the independent approach to the movie, with the camerawork, but especially with the casting decisions. All the cast members aren't what you'd expect to be watching in a movie this good. They are all bold choices, and that's what really set the movie apart. This cast ended up being nothing short of perfect.
This is a film that I would recommend, but it is also one that I would caution some on watching. Is it a really good movie? Yeah. But the subject matter could be too much for some people. Even though the film isn't really about the incest or the abuse; it may be too depressing or heart wrenching for some to handle. If you can get over that though, you are in for a film of immense power.
Precious is like a blunt object used to batter you about the head and make you cry. It's unapologetically anti-male: they're either sexual objects (like male nurse Lenny Kravitz) or brutes who attack and rape. Even the awful mom is sort of portrayed as the pitiful victim of her man's abuse. And it stands to reason, her super awesome teacher who helps her the most is a lesbian, of course. At times, all the drama dips down into comedy, and no, I'm not laughing with, I'm laughing at. Still, of all the movies made about inner cities and disenfranchised people of color, this is probably the best one I've seen.
There are some nice stylistic additions that Daniels inserts (fully capturing Precious's fantasies), but they're wasted on a story that manipulates its audience from the get-go into feeling sorry for this girl. You add in some sketchy camera work, sometimes overbearing music, and melodramatic scenes that aim for subtle power but instead come off as cheesy and forced - you've got me confused as to why this was nominated for so many Academy Awards, and why it was called one of the best films of the year by many big name critics.
The movie attempts to play with your emotions and it works to an extent giving us an insight look at what many of millions of American's living in poverty go through on a daily basis. While it's a good tug at your emotions, it doesn't necessarily make it a good movie, and I think that much of its hype and over ratings came from people who felt to guilty to point out how bad it truly sucked.
A good movie should capture your emotions and I cannot deny this movies ability to do that but there has to be more to a movie than feeling sympathy for characters. Other than that...
The story was really boring aside from the few emotionally intense scenes that were few and far in between the huge amount of boring scenes that hardly had reason for development into the movie. The movie was predictable and it was a lot like walking on a treadmill, it moved forward, but it wasn't going anywhere and when it finally did conclude it the ending was as unimpressive as the beginning, and middle.
Simply put: Precious is boring and despite the emotional connections and sadness it brings to mind, I just didn't see it as a good 'movie.' Just a simple, basic, not very well told story that they turned into an even worse movie.
You'd think I'd give it a lower grade because of all that, but no. Like I said, the performances pretty much carry things. The cast is wonderful. Carey and Kravitz are really strong in serious dramatic roles that often aren't given to people like them. Mo'Nique, like everyone said, it amazing, and I'd love to see her do more serious films like this. For a first-timer, Sidibe knocks it out of the park. It's a really challenging role, but she's brilliant. Paula Patton is also quite strong,
In an odd way, I kind of want ot call this a bit of a blaxploitation film, but a different type of one. I'm afraid if I do though, that it will undermine the message of hope and perseverence on display. It's good, but really flawed. There's a bit of humor, which helps, and, as much as I liked it, I think I'd rather watch Angela's Ashes again, and that's saying something, especially since that was real, and this is not.
Sorry for rambling. See this at least once. The acting and emotional power are definitely not to be missed.
At the centre is (worthy Oscar tip) Gabby Sidibe as the eponymous Clareece Precious Jones. The fact that her middle name is not some sort of irony lever is a testament not only to Lee Daniels but also to her iron performance. It's also impressive that the satellite cast act with the character she is digging out (yes, even Mariah Carey, an amazing metamorphosis). It would be so simple and safe for everyone to treat Clareece as the fat girl whose acts garner pity and pathos. That is not this film, not by a very long way.
The film achieves so much. It's relentlessly warm and human - a middle- class audience, such as the one I was in at the 53rd London Film Festival, doesn't need to nod sagely and side with the protagonists as abstract figures representing a life of alternative fortune. There's too much to enjoy and synchronise with. Consequently, when the bad things happen they are spasm-in-the-auditorium shocking.