Precious

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Never mind the unwieldy title, or the fact that the story itself—an obese, illiterate African-American teen must deal with a long legacy of abuse and low self-esteem—sounds like something from a third-rate Lifetime movie. Or even that the last time Indiewood producer Lee Daniels decided to put on his directorial cap, he gave the world Shadowboxer (2005). What this little-drama-that-could accomplishes is nothing short of a miracle: It turns a warhorse tale about overcoming social disadvantages and overall adversity into a dark, devastating and ultimately uplifting story that somehow feels totally singular. Daniels balances a tone that flips between old-school melodrama, neo-neorealistic grit and Felliniesque flights of fancy (a Two Women--inspired dream sequence in Italian, fake R&B music video interludes) without ever losing the movie’s bootstrap sensibility, while the performances by Mo’Nique, Mariah Carey (!) and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe are each pitch-perfect. Believe the copious hype that came out of Sundance, Cannes and Toronto. And bring a box of tissues. Saturday, Oct 3 at 7pm—David Fear

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New York Film Festival 2009

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