Against all odds: a movie review on Precious

Posted: Updated:

Precious captures 4&1/2 Red Vines for being my third choice for Best Movie of 2009

I confess I am not a member of Oprah’s Book Club.  Yet two of her selections were made into films in 2009.  Both films, “The Lovely Bones” and “Precious by Push Sapphire” have landed on my list for the best films of the year.  And while “The Lovely Bones” was inexplicably snubbed by the academy, “Push” was a film so gritty and artful it could not be ignored.

Precious is the name of a young girl who is treated anything but.  Raped repeatedly by her father and abused in unimaginable ways by her mother, we begin her story with the girl facing her second pregnancy at the hands of her father.  The girl has just decided to make something of herself and attend adult classes when the pregnancy and her whacked out mother, threaten to thwart her growth and keep her forever trapped in the cycle of welfare, poverty and abuse.

The movie is a work of art that gracefully purges you into her shocking world of ugly brutality punctuated with brief glimpses of the girl’s escapist daydreams of beauty, fame and glamor. 

Director Lee Daniels not only has an eye for artistic film-making but for getting real, touching performances from his talented, female heavy cast.  Newcomer Gabourey Sidebe is a revelation as “Precious”.  The big girl does more than look the part; she simply becomes the part so much that you truly don’t appreciate the scope of her skill until you see her on an interview show.  She is nothing like Precious.  She is light, witty and a bit of a valley girl!  I was shocked and ashamed that I quickly jumped to the thought of typecasting when I saw her performance.  I guess it was beyond me to comprehend what a skilled actress this novice nobody could be.

And while much has been made of Mariah Carey’s performance, all I can say is that it was fine yet nothing really special.  To be fair her part as a social worker didn’t necessarily provide a vehicle for anything but a rather low key performance.  But it is a whole different story when it comes to Mo’Nique’s tour de force portrayal of Mary, Precious’ monster of a mother.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I have seen a part that seemed so inherently evil….yet unbelievably sympathetic in some pathetic sort of way at the end of the day.  No one deserves an Oscar more than Mo’Nique come Academy Awards night!

Watching “Precious” is an act of courage but there is a sweet rainbow for all who endure the trauma.  And proof that even the darkest tales can have a ray of light.

A screener of this movie was provided to me by the studio but it in no way effects my unbiased review.