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Movie Review: Precious

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It's November, which to movie buffs like myself means that the award season is looming ahead. In the next few months or so, studios will be rolling out their films that have Oscar written all over them.

Last weekend, Lionsgate released its big Oscar contender, Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire. It is directed by Lee Daniels and produced by Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey. The film stars (mostly unrecognizably) Mo'Nique, Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd, Paula Patton, Lenny Kravitz, and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe, starring as Precious Jones. If you have seen the trailer for this film, you then know what you are in for during its 109 minute run-time.

The film is narrated by Clareece Precious Jones (Sidibe), who goes by just Precious. It documents the life of a 16-year-old illiterate Harlem teen who is impregnated by her father for the second time. Her first child has Down syndrome, and lives with her grandmother. The movie starts with Precious in school being taunted by her peers.

It is then revealed that Precious does not have the best life at home either. Her mother Mary (played flawlessly by Mo'Nique) is an angry, bitter woman. She blames Precious for all all that's gone wrong in her own life. She verbally and physically assaults her, even though Precious is pregnant. Mary also tries to deter Precious from continuing her education and just be on welfare like her, which Precious does not want. Director Lee Daniels pulls no punches in terms of showing the reality of both physical and verbal abuse.

When Precious' school principal suggests she enroll at an alternative school based in a hotel, Precious jumps at the chance. That's where we meet Blue Rain (Patton), a teacher with a heart of gold. She instantly takes Precious under her wing, and forms a bond with her.

Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd, and Lenny Kravitz all have small roles in the film as well. Shepherd (the most unrecognizable I have ever seen her ) plays the receptionist at the alternative school. Mariah Carey plays Precious' welfare worker and is phenomenal. Kravitz plays a male nurse and I had no idea it was him. In fact, I had forgotten that he was in the film until I walked out and saw his name on the movie poster. This just shows Daniels wanted to portray his characters by making them raw in their own skin. It worked so well in this film.

Precious is a must-see film and is easily the best film I have seen this year.  Daniels took it to the next level by showing us the dark underworld of what it's like to be in pain and impoverished from having to solely live off of welfare. We can see that through Precious' eyes, as she tries to veer of the welfare path and do things right, unlike her mother.

This film is not for everyone as it explores tough subjects such as incest, rape, and abuse. Throughout the film, abused as Precious is, she tries to always look at the positive, and never lets anyone get in her way of achieving what she wants. It seemed like she has been numbed to the pain in her life.

When the award nominations are announced within the next few months, I will not be surprised if this film scores a Best Picture nomination, as well as a screenplay nomination, and possible nominations for Sidibe (Best Actress), Mo'Nique and Mariah Carey (Supporting Actress). This movie deserves all the acclaim it gets because it shows the dark world some people in this country have to survive in. It is done superbly and I want to thank the makers of Precious for showing me that not everyone's life is picture-perfect, that there are some people out there who are struggling to put their heads above water, and they never let things get them down.

I do want to mention that after Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey viewed this film, they gave it financial backing as producers. They both wanted to get the word out about the film, so without them, I may not have been able to see it. So, another thanks goes out to both Tyler Perry and Oprah.

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About Mitch Berman

  • This movie is a hit precisely because Oprah did not direct it and it was NOT her baby. They put up money for mass promotion and putting it in lots of theaters.

    I am reading the book and will review it. It has not yet returned to FW. I missed it at the film fest.

    Thanks for the review. The acting is superb and that’s saying a lot. I think you hit on something I’ve always said and now I see why. Some of the BEST movies I’ve seen in life always star folks you have never heard of.

    So to duplicate that formula what better way than to disguise the damn stars? Halle did this in Monster’s Ball and won an Oscar. She still can’t act, but I love her anyway. But that is the secret sauce really. When will directors catch on?

    Jolie tried to do this in A Mighty Heart but hell, I wrote that the movie seemed like Angelina comes to dinner with regular folks! It flopped with her in it.

    Good movie, good book.


  • My understanding of it, El B, is that Winfrey and Perry financed the promotion and got producing credits for doing so.

  • “In the next few months or so, studios will be rolling out their films that have Oscar written all over them.”

    They only have until the last Christmas to get them in NY/LA theatres so it’s down to few weeks as opposed to months.

    “after Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey viewed this film, they gave it financial backing as producers.”

    I am not clear what you saying. If they viewed the film, that’s means it had already been produced otherwise how could they see it?