Precious

Release Date: November 6, 2009
Limited release

Don't worry. We'll dance in a minute and it will all be better.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
4/38 John Seal A distaff Blind Side, if you will. A hard-hitting, superbly acted drama if you won't.
80/169 Max Braden I suppose it's important to depict the sometimes brutal conditions of the poor and abused, but I wouldn't call this a Best Picture. Her glamor fantasies distracted from the movie. Paula Patton was

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You may think you have it rough. Perhaps your rent is late, your dog is sick and your girlfriend is a Twilight fan. Claireece “Precious” Jones thinks you’ve got it great…except for the Twilight thing. Compare your life to hers and you’ll have to agree with her point of view. At the age of 16, this poor girl has already been pregnant twice. And that’s not even the worst part. Her father is the…well, father. Now there is an awkward conversation with junior. “Your daddy is also your granddaddy.” Three words: Maury Povich Show.

Precious as a story is somehow rather uplifting despite the above. Author Sapphire (one name only) worked as a literacy teacher for several years and wanted to write a composite story about a group of people she felt had been largely abandoned by the American dream. That series of women was represented by the character Precious, a well intended woman who has never been given a real chance in life.

Despite her impending motherhood for a second time, Precious is forced to go to an impassionate school that takes no heed of the fact that she is a functional illiterate. Seeking to improve their reputation, facilitators at her school try to kick her out by convincing her to enter a GED program. This callous disregard for her well being proves to be the best break of girl’s young life as the program includes several other women who have faced similar challenges in life. Precious meets other victims of sexual abuse and other parental misconduct as well as a couple of caring educators who take pride in helping such victims gain the basic skill set they need to succeed in life. As Precious learns to read, she develops confidence in herself and becomes more attuned to the problematic environment in which she lives. Particularly difficult for her are her relationships with her drug addicted, rapist father and her psychologically abusive mother, a shut-in whose only pleasure seems to come from belittling Precious. The teen begins to debate the best way to raise her child as well take care of herself and her journey to self-help is the primary arc of the story.

Precious won the Grand Jury Prize as well as the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Comedian Mo’Nique was given a Special Jury Award as well, making her an early contender for Best Supporting Actress at the 2010 Oscars. In addition - and I can’t believe I am typing this - Mariah Carey is receiving heaps of praise for her performance as a helpful social worker. Also along for the ride is Lenny Kravitz. Yes, folks, a film featuring Mo’Nique, Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz is absolutely tearing up the film festival circuit. Perhaps the only recognizable actress in the cast is Paula Patton, who is best known for her roles in Idlewild and Déjà Vu. The real star of the film, however, is Gabby Sidibe, who plays the titular lead. Her work is described as nothing short of mesmerizing and she could find herself in the same position Saoirse Ronan was in two years ago as a legitimate Oscar contender for her performance as a troubled teen (though Sidibe was actually born in 1983).

The specificity of the title is a story unto itself. The movie was originally given an assignation that separated it from the Sapphire novel. Once a decision was made to embrace the connection as much as possible, another title had already claimed the name of Push. There is also some debate over the rights of the film, akin to the Watchmen debacle in 2008. Weinstein Co. sued the distributor who championed it at the Sundance Film Festival, Lionsgate Films, over ownership and future revenue. As of this publication date, that situation remains unresolved. Whether this becomes an issue remains to be seen, but Precious has quietly become one of the major players in the 2009 Academy Awards season. (David Mumpower/BOP)


Vital statistics for Precious
Main Cast Gabourey Sidibe, Paula Patton, Mo'Nique
Supporting Cast Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz
Director Lee Daniels
Screenwriter Damien Paul
Distributor Lionsgate
Rating R
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture


     


 
 

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