Lee Daniels' Long-Anticipated Sundance-Winner Lives up to the Buzz
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Rated R for child abuse, sexual assault, violence, pervasive
profanity, ethnic slurs and mature themes.
Running time:110 minutes
Studio: Lionsgate Films
Film Review by Kam Williams
Excellent (4 stars)
Precious is finally arriving in theaters after being the beneficiary of practically a year's worth of buzz since winning a trio of trophies at Sundance, including that prestigious film festival's equivalent of Best Picture. I'm happy to be the bearer of the good news that the movie more than lives up to the critical acclaim.
Based on the novel Push by Sapphire, that relentlessly-raw best seller has been faithfully adapted by Lee Daniels, the producer of Monster's Ball, the flick for which Halle Berry won her Academy Award in 2002. There's a good chance that Daniels is about to repeat that historic feat, for he has coaxed an Oscar-quality performance out of comedienne-turned-actress Mo'Nique, who is riveting here as one of the most monstrous screen villains in memory.
Set in Harlem in 1987, this remarkably-realistic tale of woe is narrated by Clareece Precious' Jones (Gabby Sidibe), an overweight and illiterate, 16 year-old still in junior high. She claims to enjoy Math class because, instead of opening her textbook, she simply sits there fantasizing about sleeping with her teacher, Mr. Wicher (Ean Sheehy). However, as the film further unfolds, being behind a few grades turns out to be the least of the portly pepperpot's problems.
Over the protests, I do my work, and My grades is good, Precious is suspended from school for being pregnant. We also learn that she is not only expecting, but already has a daughter with Down Syndrome. So, between the absentee-father who impregnated her, and the relentlessly-abusive mother (MoNique) who insists shell never amount to anything, it's no surprise that Precious frequently escapes into a parallel universe where she daydreams about being rescued from her nightmarish existence by a light-skinned boyfriend with good hair.
But while desperately awaiting that proverbial knight in shining armor to materialize, Precious finds herself repeatedly slapped in the face, whether literally, by her mom, or figuratively, by a social service bureaucracy way too willing to let her slip through the cracks. The all but lost teen is shuttled back and forth between well-meaning, if ineffective lifelines, like her clueless welfare case-worker (Mariah Carey) and a kindly nurse (Lenny Kravitz).
Tragically, no one seems to have any answers until Precious' goes back to school where her compassionate GED teacher (Paula Patton) takes a special interest in her well-being. Nonetheless, nurturing the self-esteem of a life-long doormat calls for a Herculean effort that might prove beyond the resources of resolute Ms Rain.
As poignant as it is shocking, Precious stands as an undeniably authentic contrast to those ghetto fabulous adventures celebrating macho, misogynistic, malevolent and misanthropic behavior presumably of no emotional consequence. A searing, inner-city saga of transformation and triumph, and a masterpiece not to be forgotten during awards season.
Watch the trailer for Precious:
Format: Paperback, 140pp
Pub. Date: April 1997
Publisher: Random House, Incorporated
In an electrifying novel, a black street girl, sixteen years old and pregnant, again, with her father's child, speaks. In a voice that shakes us by its language, its story, and its unflinching honesty, Precious Jones records her journey up from Harlem's lowest depths... For Precious, miraculously, hope appears and the world begins to open up when a courageous black woman - a teacher hellbent to teach - bullies, cajoles, and inspires her to learn to read, to define her own feelings and set them down in a diary: to discover the truth of her life.
Day after day they go over the pages, translating the illiterate but developing language of Precious' journals. The learning process itself, as vividly revealed as the most brutal aspects of Precious' daily existence, is the heartbeat of a novel that will disturb, galvanize, and stay in the mind.
Gabby Sidibe - The "Precious" Interview
Lee Daniels Interview, Producer of the motion
Mo'Nique - Interview (Just Give Mo'Nique the
Mariah Carey The "Precious" Interview
Video: NYU Professor Says 'Precious' Bad For Black Culture
Mariah Carey The 'Precious' Interview
Lenny Kravitz - The 'Precious'