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Overall Rating
3.56

Awesome34.92%
Worth A Look: 30.16%
Just Average: 9.52%
Pretty Crappy: 6.35%
Sucks: 19.05%

3 reviews, 45 user ratings


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Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
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by brianorndorf

"When life hardly seems worth the effort"
4 stars

The Madeafication of African-American storytelling from Tyler Perry and his imitators has been a depressing downward spiral, reducing important social topics to countrified nonsense, often chased with a heavy wallop of misguided religious justification. Though “presented” by Tyler Perry (and Oprah Winfrey), “Precious” restores some much needed horror to abuse of all kinds, lending weight to self-esteem issues instead of playing them off as melodramatic screenwriting requirements. This is a lacerating tale of desperation and evolution, and while director Lee Daniels should do himself a favor and muzzle most of his visual instincts, he permits the material to lead the charge, creating a harrowing environment that makes for a hypnotic sit.

The year is 1987, and Precious (newcomer Gabourey Sidibe) is a morbidly obese, illiterate 16-year-old girl suffering abuse at the hands of her violent mother, Mary (Mo’Nique), and expecting her second child, impregnated by her own father. Kicked out of school, Precious is sent to the “Each One Teach One” GED education center, where she meets sympathetic teacher Ms. Rain (Paula Patton). Trying to survive her daily punishments and humiliations, Precious starts to put her life in order through her educational efforts, engaging slowly but surely with counselor Ms. Weiss (Mariah Carey), who attempts to adjust the young lady’s sense of self-worth. Emboldened by her accomplishments and newfound friends, Precious realizes she isn’t free from her mother’s wrath, with even more severe turns of fate waiting around the corner to smash her confidence to pieces.

There’s a special low-to-the-ground quality to “Precious” that pulled me into the story almost completely. Narrated by the title character in a thick-tongued, stream-of-consciousness ramble, mumbling her every thought as though the audience should not be allowed to hear her hopes and dreams, “Precious” feels properly intimate. It’s almost voyeuristic in a way. The screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher seeks to provide a balance between the character’s horrific reality and the shelter of her mind, where dreams of red-carpet stardom and the romantic attention of cute boys whisks Precious away from the cruelty that’s toughened her exterior and sent her heart into a coma. The film preserves its literary foundation by capturing Precious’s conflicted core, performed with stupendous clotted discomfort by Sidibe, whose fearlessness in appearance and emotional availability gives Daniels a miraculous canvas to work with.

With such throbbing swells of misery portioned throughout the film, it’s a miracle Daniels never accepts a less aggressive route of misery for his heroine. The option is there, but Daniels (last seen with the eye-rollingly bizarre 2006 thriller, “Shadowboxer”) ducks temptation, preferring to tackle Precious’s grueling world with authentic malice and irritation, showing equal parts love and frustration for the character. Daniels takes an unfortunate off-ramp with his visual style, which arrives as clichéd as can be, using zooms and fractured editing to artificially breathe for the story. The effort is distracting and entirely worthless when the cast is harmonizing superbly. Even Mo’Nique, not normally known for her graceful screen presence, contributes volatile work as the demonic mother, cursed with feelings of irrational jealousy that have made her daughter the enemy. She’s pure malice, and a nice contrast to the work of Paula Patton, who steals the film as the exhausted, supportive beacon of hope for Precious, refusing to accept her excuses, nudging the terrified girl into literacy and communication.

“Precious” is more concerned with the first steps of empowerment, not an overall cure, leaving more of a lasting impression than outright closure allows. The story of Precious hits several staggering low points, but the humanity is never far from view, and while uncomfortable to process at times, the film retains an impressive dramatic grip through unimaginable horror. Tyler Perry could learn a thing or two from this approach.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=18174&reviewer=404
originally posted: 11/06/09 09:30:25
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2009 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Festival de Cannes For more in the 2009 Festival de Cannes series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 New York Film Festival For more in the 2009 New York Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Chicago International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Chicago International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2009 Austin Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Starz Denver Film Festival For more in the 2009 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/21/15 David Hollingsworth Depressing, grim, but brilliant film 5 stars
12/03/14 PAUL SHORTT POWERFUL, WELL MADE,MOVING DRAMA WITH A BRILLIANT STAR PERFORMANCE 4 stars
11/16/11 Jeff Wilder Harrowing as hell yet uplifting. The best movie of 2009 hands down. 5 stars
12/24/10 mr.mike It deserved the accolades. 4 stars
10/28/10 Ionicera great character piece 4 stars
10/24/10 millersxing dreams of being a mover and a shaker crumble like the earth beneath her feet 4 stars
5/15/10 Helen Bradley Not a pleasant film to watch, but portrays real life 5 stars
5/12/10 Ann Kerr Very raw but excellent performances by the cast. It is a hard film to watch 4 stars
4/11/10 Purple* Excellent Film! 5 stars
3/28/10 Danny Was expecting a bit more; did not quite live up to the hype. 3 stars
3/28/10 zora Pure power! Beautiful! 5 stars
3/14/10 Bobo was looking forward to it, but it was too depressing. meh. 3 stars
2/05/10 nilesh life in darkness of uncivillize socity unleashed 4 stars
1/20/10 Stanley Thai Harrowing, grim, and optimistic, PRECIOUS is a powerful fillm. 5 stars
1/08/10 John The bits and pieces were good. Putting them all together leads to a story without an ending 3 stars
12/25/09 petro life sucks at times that should not be glorified ps the writer is a dyke perv 1 stars
12/21/09 Sean Was hoping for more fight scenes with the mom...! And learning ABC's in Jr. High? Come on.. 1 stars
12/20/09 buy lipitor 87ehrf It is pivotal to change your physician about any allergies you may have and also your medic 5 stars
12/18/09 Flounder A very well made film that is a bit too heavy-handed for my taste 4 stars
12/17/09 Toni Perhaps in your world these people don't exist. 5 stars
12/17/09 Iak A movie that shows all negative black stereotypes it what it takes to get attention. Sad. 1 stars
12/13/09 Jeff Wilder The film of 2009 5 stars
12/08/09 steve this is the worst kind of misery porn.thanks for not following the hack lemming critics 1 stars
12/07/09 Maia Yep, if you're determined not to believe in child abuse, you sure will hate it. 5 stars
12/06/09 l too much hatred. 1 stars
12/02/09 David In total agreement. 2 stars
11/29/09 Mel Couldn't have said it better. There was nothing powerful or uplifting about this movie. 2 stars
11/27/09 dan Film snob has to hate everything that appeals to a majority. Sad. 5 stars
11/26/09 heather had high hopes for this film, but alas, was disappointed, felt far too pretentious, unreal 3 stars
11/25/09 DMT Dealing w/ hard issues is a GOOD thing. Loved it. 5 stars
11/24/09 Missy Justanotherstupidblog@yahoo.com 5 stars
11/23/09 Tadeusz Spot on. It's a grotesque, hateful film. 1 stars
11/22/09 Frannie Boy do you need a hug! Phenomenal at each turn of he movie. 5 stars
11/20/09 Bungi How do you know whats over the top? You never seen a project hallway...Lol at this critique 5 stars
11/19/09 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Why must Oprah always promote abuse stories? Not all families are this sad. 3 stars
11/18/09 joy All I have to say is AMEN!!!! 5 stars
11/17/09 Dave I've never read a review move on the spot than this one. 5 stars
11/16/09 kimmi blech sheer crapfest of melancholy junk 2 stars
11/15/09 Leslie Morbid voyerism, with Hollywood gloss...Peter's review hits it on the nail. 2 stars
11/13/09 Abby Using lighter skinned rescuers is vital in highlighting Precious' self & life perceptions. 5 stars
11/11/09 Christy I was so disappointed! I want so badly to love it, but it just didn't do it for me. 3 stars
11/08/09 Ebonee noticed thelightskinned dynamic, but otherwise the movie was amazing... 5 stars
11/08/09 Ken You probably need to see this movie first then make a decision 5 stars
11/08/09 Kos You must have made up your mind before you saw the movie. 5 stars
11/07/09 Luis I've never read/seen a review more wrong than this one. You're just off at every critique. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  06-Nov-2009 (R)
  DVD: 09-Mar-2010

UK
  N/A

Australia
  06-Nov-2009
  DVD: 09-Mar-2010




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