Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire (15)

Film

Drama

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Jan 26 2010

If there was a gold statuette for wall-to-wall compassion, ‘Precious’ would wipe the floor with its rivals this awards season. Director Lee Daniels and writer Geoffrey Fletcher’s adaptation of Sapphire’s novel ‘Push’ oozes empathy from the first scene to the last. It’s inescapably bleak, but occasionally it has the confidence and spirit to emerge from the shadows of its tragic story – the tale of Precious (Gabourey Sidibe), an obese 16-year-old teenager in 1980s Harlem who is abused by her mother and father – to indulge in sly humour and jolly camaraderie before retreating again into the darkness at its heart.

‘My name’s Clarissa Precious Jones… and I want to be on the cover of a magazine,’ says Sidibe. What she gets is less glitzy: we learn of the gross difference between the refuge of her mind and the reality of her life. When her vile mother (Mo’Nique, grotesque, chilling but in the end almost sympathetic) screams, ‘I should have aborted your motherfuckin’ ass,’ Precious imagines herself walking the red carpet at a film premiere. Perhaps most movingly, when she looks in the mirror, she sees a girl who is more beautiful and more white.

So, a better life is possible, but imagination just isn’t enough: ‘Precious’ is a film about real escape, not dreams. The film celebrates a winning combination of individual strength, education and community over the warped logic of the sort of corrupt household where a loveless grandma puts on a wig and feigns love for a Down’s syndrome child, a piece of theatre to secure a cheque from a visiting social worker. It’s a film that acknowledges poverty and inequality while refusing to believe that people can’t escape from their grip. It’s a truly American movie. Its realism is social – not socialist – and its happy flights of imagination recall the magical side of Danny Boyle more than the grit of Ken Loach.

Slowly, surely, Precious attends a special school with an inspirational teacher (Paula Patton), begins sessions with a social worker (Mariah Carey, unobtrusive) and fights her silent, violent and self-loathing tendencies to make new friends, a colourful bunch of girls in her class, from a mouthy Jamaican immigrant to a tough nut from The Bronx. It’s not an easy battle and Daniels has a tendency to land new blows when you think the fight is over. So oppressive and extreme is Precious’s background that you imagine terrible things are about to happen even when they’re not. I didn’t find the film as actively upsetting as many have reported – merely very, very sad.

The film arrives here after winning prizes at Toronto and Sundance and gaining four Bafta nominations. So, should you believe the hype? Yes and no. ‘Precious’ is very affecting and has some great performances, especially from Sidibe and Mo’Nique, but the film is arguably more heart than art. Is that such a bad thing? Perhaps not: when a film shines a light on a desperate way of life and gives dignity to characters barely ever portrayed on screen, you can forgive some clumsy, emphatic storytelling and a narrative that’s too episodic and reliant on voiceover. It’s a film full of life and love, well-meaning and, judging by the reaction in the US, a genuine and important phenomenon that says act – don’t dwell – on your dreams. A genuine Obama-era movie, then.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Jan 29, 2010

Duration:

109 mins

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liki

precious is great movie ! i like the way everyfing is set out beautifully done ! the movie gets really touchie but gerat actors they all suit ther role in the movie

liki

precious is great movie ! i like the way everyfing is set out beautifully done ! the movie gets really touchie but gerat actors they all suit ther role in the movie

Thomas Noctor

Ok 1st things 1st! Acting is supurcb! Story is good, film however aint! Set in the USA in 1987, this film is very unbelievable! A Parent asking to Marry you, another who beats you? Help! It's not 1700 AD here! Very depressing drama that does disturb but as usual another poor Oscar Nominee! Alright for most parts but boring for some. Deserves a 3 for being a little like Dangerous Minds. Not the orst film!

Thomas Noctor

Ok 1st things 1st! Acting is supurcb! Story is good, film however aint! Set in the USA in 1987, this film is very unbelievable! A Parent asking to Marry you, another who beats you? Help! It's not 1700 AD here! Very depressing drama that does disturb but as usual another poor Oscar Nominee! Alright for most parts but boring for some. Deserves a 3 for being a little like Dangerous Minds. Not the orst film!

Jools

A stunning, shocking, wonderful film. What are you all talking about, you mockers, especially the negative comparison with the saccharin sick-bucket that is 'The Color Purple'? Incredible performances from Maria Carey and the actress who plays the mother. The only weak link, as has been pointed out, is the king, pretty. Miss Honey teacher, who just seems to have wandered into the wrong film. Amazing to see a US film with real-looking black characters, not just light-skinned Halle Berry/Thandie Newton lookalikes.

Jools

A stunning, shocking, wonderful film. What are you all talking about, you mockers, especially the negative comparison with the saccharin sick-bucket that is 'The Color Purple'? Incredible performances from Maria Carey and the actress who plays the mother. The only weak link, as has been pointed out, is the king, pretty. Miss Honey teacher, who just seems to have wandered into the wrong film. Amazing to see a US film with real-looking black characters, not just light-skinned Halle Berry/Thandie Newton lookalikes.

jerry58

This was not enterainment,was thought proking and the last sceen bettween mother daughter and social worker was moving and powerful but left the cinema feeling dirty and needing a shower

jerry58

This was not enterainment,was thought proking and the last sceen bettween mother daughter and social worker was moving and powerful but left the cinema feeling dirty and needing a shower

Julian Bates

I came to look at these posts just for curiosity -& realised I shouldn’t have done so when I read the negative reviews. Although I don’t adore this movie –& I was amused at one point (the reference to Fame to do with the teacher), but when she said 'I love you' I was quite moved! I think it depends on how you see it: I don’t think I like false-sentimentality, but that point struck the tender part of the film quite acutely! I think it depends on where you're at in yourself at that time! Also –someone said this is ‘unrealistic’: I find such a comment very naïve and wrong (personally): this is the lives of MANY people I believe: not exactly with this detail, but the lack of options, the deep entrenchment of the family's 'power', the complete self-centredness of some of the characters: unfortunately, some people and some families are VERY like this! I think its psychological portrayal was one of its strengths: it stayed within the understated and the real (The Colour Purple is a completely different film, saying Other things; the comparison is superfluous!). Yes- Carey was very good in her role, & looked much nicer (she normally looks hideously plastic; here she looked real, and more naturally beautiful).

Julian Bates

I came to look at these posts just for curiosity -& realised I shouldn’t have done so when I read the negative reviews. Although I don’t adore this movie –& I was amused at one point (the reference to Fame to do with the teacher), but when she said 'I love you' I was quite moved! I think it depends on how you see it: I don’t think I like false-sentimentality, but that point struck the tender part of the film quite acutely! I think it depends on where you're at in yourself at that time! Also –someone said this is ‘unrealistic’: I find such a comment very naïve and wrong (personally): this is the lives of MANY people I believe: not exactly with this detail, but the lack of options, the deep entrenchment of the family's 'power', the complete self-centredness of some of the characters: unfortunately, some people and some families are VERY like this! I think its psychological portrayal was one of its strengths: it stayed within the understated and the real (The Colour Purple is a completely different film, saying Other things; the comparison is superfluous!). Yes- Carey was very good in her role, & looked much nicer (she normally looks hideously plastic; here she looked real, and more naturally beautiful).

trickydicky

Phew. I’ve just returned from “Precious�. This is a hard one to review. Clearly word’s got around… The third screen at CineWorld Haymarket was packed. Some of the audience laughed, some gasped, some reeled. This film will certainly stir up your emotions. But by putting as many bad things in a movie as possible (and most of them take place in a two year time frame), does this make the film good, and/or realistic? Personally, I feel just because Oprah Winfrey’s lent her name to this movie, doesn’t necessarily make it a good one. This film feels like the contents of Pandora’s box made it to celluloid. In his song “Strong�, Robbie Williams sang “Oprah Winfrey Ricki Lake, teach me things I don't need to know …�. There’s just too much misery in this film to say it felt realistic. Yes, there are bits that are good, and other bits that are funny, but on the whole I feel the hype/publicity machine/press have got hold of it because it is so utterly bleak. I'd suggest going to see the doc before you go and see this one … beg him for Prozac … tell him you’re going to see “Precious� – he’ll understand. This isn’t a “classic�. I've got a very broad range of DVDs on the shelves, but this one isn't going to join them. I’m with Paul (below), who suggested you spend your money on a ticket for “A Prophet�.

trickydicky

Phew. I’ve just returned from “Precious�. This is a hard one to review. Clearly word’s got around… The third screen at CineWorld Haymarket was packed. Some of the audience laughed, some gasped, some reeled. This film will certainly stir up your emotions. But by putting as many bad things in a movie as possible (and most of them take place in a two year time frame), does this make the film good, and/or realistic? Personally, I feel just because Oprah Winfrey’s lent her name to this movie, doesn’t necessarily make it a good one. This film feels like the contents of Pandora’s box made it to celluloid. In his song “Strong�, Robbie Williams sang “Oprah Winfrey Ricki Lake, teach me things I don't need to know …�. There’s just too much misery in this film to say it felt realistic. Yes, there are bits that are good, and other bits that are funny, but on the whole I feel the hype/publicity machine/press have got hold of it because it is so utterly bleak. I'd suggest going to see the doc before you go and see this one … beg him for Prozac … tell him you’re going to see “Precious� – he’ll understand. This isn’t a “classic�. I've got a very broad range of DVDs on the shelves, but this one isn't going to join them. I’m with Paul (below), who suggested you spend your money on a ticket for “A Prophet�.

ARCHGATE

Powerhouse film about poverty, neglect, abuse, more abuse, bad food, bad government, social deprivation. bad clothes. bad wigs. Watch out for falling tv sets, flying kitchen utensils.It's all mesmerising and bleak but at the same time utterly compelling. See it and realise you are living in heaven by comparison.

ARCHGATE

Powerhouse film about poverty, neglect, abuse, more abuse, bad food, bad government, social deprivation. bad clothes. bad wigs. Watch out for falling tv sets, flying kitchen utensils.It's all mesmerising and bleak but at the same time utterly compelling. See it and realise you are living in heaven by comparison.

Paul

Disappointed by the film despite high hopes and felt as if I was watching Fame at times. Could have been a great film but let know by cliched scenes and recommend you see 'A Prophet' on how it should be done.

Paul

Disappointed by the film despite high hopes and felt as if I was watching Fame at times. Could have been a great film but let know by cliched scenes and recommend you see 'A Prophet' on how it should be done.

Fraulein

Not knowing much about it except for a vague recollection that the book was famous, I went to a screening at Cannes in '09. I find that most reviewers haven't got a clue how to reflect the story or tone of this film so all I can say is RUN TO THE NEAREST CINEMA AND SEE THIS. IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

Fraulein

Not knowing much about it except for a vague recollection that the book was famous, I went to a screening at Cannes in '09. I find that most reviewers haven't got a clue how to reflect the story or tone of this film so all I can say is RUN TO THE NEAREST CINEMA AND SEE THIS. IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

James Guilford

After seeing an advance screening of Daniels' "Precious" two weeks ago, I am still moved. By far, the most outstanding performance is Mo’Nique as Mary, Precious’ mother. From her utterance of her first insult to Precious, the audience knows that comedian Mo’Nique has been inhabited by a actress of Meryl Streep caliber. Monique’s delivery of Mary is so thoroughly convincing that it is an injustice to call her execution a performance. I'd warn viewer that the movie is difficult to finish. On several occasions, I considered walking out. The cinematic tragedy of Precious' life both beautiful and suffocating. - James Guilford

James Guilford

After seeing an advance screening of Daniels' "Precious" two weeks ago, I am still moved. By far, the most outstanding performance is Mo’Nique as Mary, Precious’ mother. From her utterance of her first insult to Precious, the audience knows that comedian Mo’Nique has been inhabited by a actress of Meryl Streep caliber. Monique’s delivery of Mary is so thoroughly convincing that it is an injustice to call her execution a performance. I'd warn viewer that the movie is difficult to finish. On several occasions, I considered walking out. The cinematic tragedy of Precious' life both beautiful and suffocating. - James Guilford

Andree

So the film on it's London dedut. It was really a thought provoking production. Perhaps causing someof us to realise how fortunate we actually are. Awful topics covered, but the film was definately worth seeing.

Andree

So the film on it's London dedut. It was really a thought provoking production. Perhaps causing someof us to realise how fortunate we actually are. Awful topics covered, but the film was definately worth seeing.