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|Precious Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire|
dir Lee Daniels
scr Geoffrey Fletcher
prd Lee Daniels, Gary Magness, Sarah Siegel-Magness
with Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, Sherri Shepherd, Stephanie Andujar, Chyna Layne, Amina Robinson, Xosha Roquemore, Angelic Zambrana, Bill Sage
release US 6.Nov.09, UK 29.Jan.10
A little help from new friends: Kravitz and Sidibe
SUNDANCE FILM FEST
CANNES FILM FEST
TORONTO FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Beautifully written and directed, this raw and honest drama tells a story that cuts to the core of some extremely serious issues. It also features a terrific cast that adds a breath of fresh air even in the most wrenching scenes.
Claireece Jones (Sidibe), known as Precious, is a troubled 16-year-old pregnant with her second child. Even though she's good at maths, she can't read or write, so she's sent to an alternative school to work with the inventive and caring Ms Rain (Patton). But as she talks with her social worker (Carey), the realities of her life at home with her cruel mother (Mo'Nique) become increasingly worrying. Can this new school offer her a chance to discover something good about herself and maybe begin to head in a positive direction?
This is not an easy film to watch, as it examines the horrific bigotry, injustice and parental abuse that infuse Precious' life and make it so difficult for her to see who she really is. Her pain she is simply mind-numbing, especially as it's often inflicted by the only person in the world who should love her. Sidibe offers a remarkably textured performance, letting us see Precious' inner turmoil and insecurities as well as the fierce intelligence and even confidence struggling to get out.
Meanwhile, Mo'Nique goes way against type as the literally soul-destroying woman who compounds her own paranoia with viciousness and bad decisions. This is a scary, hideous character, and Mo'Nique plays her without flinching, letting us see only the faintest glimpse of humanity. Carey and Kravitz are also effective (and almost unrecognisable) in key side roles. And Precious' five classmates (Andujar, Layne, Robinson, Roquemore and Zambrana) add moments of raucous hilarity and camaraderie.
Daniels directs with astute camerawork that draws out the grittiness with lurking shadows and glaring lights, while Precious' escapist fantasies are in lurid colour (plus one hilarious scene in black and white). But the film's real strength is in how it touches on potent issues from teen pregnancy to homophobia while exploring self-image in a positive, affirming way. At some point, we must find the strength and light within ourselves, both to help in our own lives and to reach out to others. Otherwise, are we actually human at all?
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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