Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Precious



By now anyone that pays attention to the media or has even a small interest in film has heard of Precious.  The film is adapted from the novel Push by Sapphire, and debuted at Sundance last winter to raves from critics. The film won Grand Jury Prize for best drama and put Mo’Nique on the map as a serious contender for best supporting actress awards.

It is clear that Mo’Nique will win a Globe, Oscar, SAG award and any other award that she is eligible for with her performance in Precious. Watching her, I could not believe this was the comedian Mo’Nique from Phat Girlz and Soul Plane. Although I went into the screening well aware of the entire buzz surrounding her it is still a shocking and terrifying portrayal by this actress. Mo’Nique’s character is as monstrous and intimidating a villain as The Joker or Anton Chigurh. Although Mary, the mother of Precious, is more disturbing due to the fact that she is the most realistic of the three villains.

Gabby Sidibe also turns in an excellent performance in her debut role as the title character, Precious. Clarice “Precious” Jones is illiterate and has been twice impregnated by her own father. She is abused and bossed around by her mother Mary whose sole focus in life is collecting welfare and playing the lotto. She has personal demons of her own that are revealed eventually and help to explain her cruelty and madness to some extent.

This is a very difficult movie to take in. The power of film is really on display here. It never seems too drastic when you hear that a person is illiterate but when you watch a scene of them struggling mightily to read the title of a book “A Day At The Shore” it really throws you back. There are countless scenes in this film that made audience members gasp and shake their heads. There is a compelling combination of terror and realism here. I would go so far as to label Precious in the genre of horror.

The character of Precious has amazing will power and mental strength to be able to deal with such horrors on a daily basis. She is also helped by a group of supporters including her teacher (Paula Patton), a male nurse (Lenny Kravitz) and a social worker (Mariah Carey). Precious is constantly trying to balance what is right for her against what she must do to appease her monstrous mother throughout the film.

I am not giving Precious a perfect score of 5/5 because I had some issues with the overall flow of the film. I thought there were a few too many scenes of Precious dreaming of a fantasy world life as a celebrity or having a “light-skinned” boyfriend. Among her fantasies is a very interesting scene in which she is getting ready and sees a reflection of a white woman in the mirror. I was not sure what to make of that both in terms of Precious view of herself and also of other women, specifically white women.

Precious is a must see film this year for everyone specifically for the tremendous performances and powerful story. Watching this film is an experience that should change anyone’s perspective on what it truly means to be living an everyday struggle.

4 1/2 / 5 stars


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