Precious (Film Review)



Dir: Lee Daniels
Starring: Mo’Nique, Mariah Carey, Paula Patton, Lenny Kravitz and Gabourey Sidibe.

Based on the book Push by Sapphire, Precious’ story is one of harrowing sadness, unwavering strength and ultimately, triumph.  She is physically and sexually abused by both of her parents and after being expelled from school for being pregnant, she finds herself at an ‘alternative school’.  Here, guidance comes in the form of a new teacher by the name of Miss Rain (Paula Patton) and she finds friendship with her classmates.  Soon, an illiterate Precious (Gabourey Sidibe) learns to read and starts to raise her baby alone. Her life seems to be finding direction until misfortune rears it’s ugly head once again with the re-appearance of her mother, Mary (Mo’Nique).

Precious’ life is harrowing and although few people have gone through what she did in the movie, her story isn’t unique.  You can see yourself in aspects of Precious and the glimmer of hope and strength running as an undercurrent throughout the movie unites everyone.  In short, the movie was intense, immense and ultimately exhilarating.  One of those films that leave you with a swelled feeling in your chest, a lump in your throat and a deep desire to leave the theatre and do something amazing with your life.

In one scene Precious and her mother are having a physical fight and, as Precious falls down the stairs holding her newborn baby, a collective gasp rippled through the audience.  Her mother then throws a television set down the stairwell towards them. I tell you, the atmosphere could have been cut with a knife.  Only when Precious and the baby roll away, just in time, does the audience as a whole exhale.  The relief was tangible.  It was one of those rare moments of togetherness you get in a cinema full of strangers, all because of the films realness and Lee Daniel’s ability to capture the suspense and build up the momentum of a scene like that.

By the end I could hear sobs and sniffs through the aisles, along with the kind of laughter that signifies relief and triumph.  I’m sure everyone connected with Precious in some way and I loved the fact that the ending was realistic; it wasn’t some fairytale ‘everything’s going to be fine now, you’re rich and famous and all of your dreams have come true’ Disney ending.  It was believable – and most of all: satisfying.

I would highly recommend this movie, especially to young women – although I think it’s important for everyone to see –  and if you haven’t read the book that it’s based on (Push by Sapphire) I’d say read it before you see the film.  [I’ll warn you that the book is graphic – bordering horrific at times – and is a real eye opener but it’s page turning.  Even though sometimes you’re scared to turn the page for what your eyes will read, it’s compelling.]

I love that Lee Daniels kept the film story so close to the books and included all of the important parts – don’t you hate when they change an adaptation so much that it’s almost unrecognisable?  The film isn’t as X-rated as the book though so, don’t worry, your eyes won’t be burned by images you don’t care to see – real or staged!

The cast is incredible – you won’t recognise Mariah, Paula Patton is just stunning, Mo’Nique is disgusting but so good and Gabourey is very authentic.  Oh, and Lenny Kravitz is thrown in there for good measure too.  Lee Daniels outdid himself with the directing and the camera work was fantastic – it had a kind of observational documentary feel to it, which is partly what made it so truthful.  This is definitely one to watch and the Oscar buzz will be huge.  With Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey backing it, I’m hoping it will be this years Slumdog.

Precious hits UK cinemas on January 29th 2010.

–Amber Yeshpaul

Precious Trailer: