Saturday, November 28, 2009

Movie Review: "Precious"

Wow. Even with all the hype, this movie still knocked me for a loop.

Precious boasts Oprah Winfrey as one of its executive producers, and this film definitely has an Oprah-like feel to it. But don't take that comment as a disparaging remark.

Clarice "Precious" Jones (film newcomer Gabourey Sidibe) is an overweight, illiterate teenager, pregnant with her second child and growing up in Harlem in the late 1980s. She lives with her unstable, abusive mother (Mo'Nique) and routinely dreams of being beautiful and famous while her life is falling apart around her.

Her pregnancy causes her to get kicked out of high school and sent to an "alternate" school run through Each One, Teach One. And it is there that Precious finally starts to learn, both how to read and write and, more importantly, how to love herself. But her mother isn't going to let her meal ticket go that easily.

This movie packs a tremendous emotional wallop and deals with some very tough subject matter. And while you think you may know what will happen, quite often the film leads you in the opposite direction. Lee Daniels did a phenomenal job directing this film, which is based on the novel Push by Sapphire.

The acting is absolutely phenomenal. In her film debut, Sidibe has an uncanny way of imbuing Precious with a radiant light even as she is dealing with emotionally and physically harrowing situations. And Mo'Nique gives a performance straight out of the "what dream roles are made of" playbook. Nothing you've ever seen her in before can prepare you for the rawness of this portrayal. Mariah Carey eschews her usual, shall we say, glitter, for a subdued (and well-acted) role as Precious' welfare case worker, Paula Patton shines in the somewhat-stock character of the teacher who helps Precious triumph, and Sherri Shepherd and Lenny Kravitz show up in small roles.

I'd expect Precious to show up in a number of Oscar categories come the spring. And deservedly so. This movie is heavy but well worth the emotions you'll feel watching it.

No comments:

Post a Comment