Distributed by: Lions Gate Entertainment
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When the film Precious made its debut at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and the 2009 Cannes Film Festival under the title Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire, people took notice. This was an very dramatic film that drew the attention of everyone who attended, including Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey who announced that they would provide promotional assistance to the film. The dramatic trailer was all it took to convince me that I had to see this film.
Based on an award-winning novel by Sapphire, Precious stars Gabourey Sidibe as Claireece Precious Jones an illiterate, obese, 16-year-old black female living with her abusive mother (Mo’Nique) in a Section 8 tenement in Harlem. Raped by her father on numerous occasions, Precious already has a daughter and is pregnant with another child. When her school discovers the second pregnancy, her principal is forced to suspend her. Seeing potential in Precious, the principal offers her an opportunity to attend an alternative school.
It is here, with the help of an inspirational teacher (Paula Patton) that Precious learns her worth in this world. All of the years filled with hateful words spewed at Precious by her mother can’t be wiped away in a few days, but Precious begins to take pride in herself as she learns how to read and express herself through writing. Her daydreams of greatness seem somewhat attainable now, despite the horrors she lives with at home.
Determination to make it in this world and to rise up out of the horrific situation she has been in push Precious to leave her mother and strike out on her own. She does so with the help of her teacher, her social worker (Mariah Carey) and her newfound friends (fellow students in the alternative school).
Precious is an incredibly inspirational film. The main character experiences so many acts of hatred that she begins to go numb, losing the ability to love herself and therefore the ability to love another. But all of this changes when one person begins to show Precious the love she has been missing all her life. Through the kindness of people she barely knows, Precious begins to grow into a person who not only loves herself but wants to spread that love to her children and ensure that they will never have to go through the painful life that she endured.
This is a film about rising up in the face of adversity. It teaches that no matter what obstacles are in your way, with determination and perseverance, you can achieve any goal you set your mind on. Precious doesn’t achieve her fantasies of stardom, but she does discover self-worth and the ability to attain goals she never would have believed possible before.
Precious is Gabourey Sidibe’s movie debut and she does a great job making herself believable in this part. But the true breakout performance in this film has to go to Mo’Nique as Precious’ mother. Mo’Nique’s career has centered around comedy and to date, Precious is the first time I have ever seen Mo’Nique in a dramatic role. After Precious, I can honestly say that I would love to see Mo’Nique challenge herself further in the drama department. Mo’Nique is truly believable in her role, a harsh portrayal of a welfare-addicted woman who feels she lost the only man who could ever love her to their daughter and is dedicated to making her daughter pay for that. This character is truly despicable and, toward the end of the film, quite pitiful and Mo’Nique applies herself to the role with an intensity I didn’t know she had.
There are some other notable performances in this film. Paula Patton is incredible as Ms. Blu Rain, Precious’ compassionate teacher who inspires Precious to greatness. Mariah Carey is barely recognizable as Precious’ social worker Ms. Weiss. With no distractions in the glamour department, Carey is finally able to show some slight acting ability. Lenny Kravitz makes an appearance as John McFadden, a nurse with a special place in his heart for Precious after he assists in delivering her second child.
This movie is a tad on the artsy side with a great deal of symbolism in the form of lighting, colors, cinematic angles, etc. But the artsy side of the film only serves to enhance the storyline. Observant individuals will notice that a poster prominently displayed in Blu Rain’s apartment advertises a play we reviewed here at G-POP.net some time ago. The play itself is inspirational, offering up various stories with a common thread - the strength of a woman and thus, the poster is perfectly symbolic in the plight of Precious.
Precious is an incredibly dramatic film with an outstanding cast and a very poignant and inspirational message. I guarantee that this film will be winning quite a few awards this year thanks to a dramatic screenplay and breakout performances by Gabourey Sidibe and Mo’Nique. Precious is an amazing film, well-worth the hype and recommendable to all those in need of inspiration.