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Precious: not for the feint hearted

  • Written by  Lisa McMahon
  • Published in Film

Heading off to see a movie starring Mariah Carey and produced by Oprah Winfrey , I was expecting guest appearances by Hello Kitty and to walk away with a car or holiday gift from the Queen of giving. I was wrong. There is no fairy tale ending here.  “Precious” is a warts and all adaption of the novel “Push” by lesbian poet Sapphire.

Lee Daniels, director of Oscar winner "Monster's Ball," tells a harrowing tale of brutal, sadistic abuse in the slums of Harlem in 1987. This is not a pretty film. Mo'Nique plays a loathsome matriarch filled with sloth in a dilapidated world of missing morals and hope. In her acting début, Gabourey Sidibe portrays her abused daughter, Claireece “Precious” Jones.  As a ghetto teenager, she is starved of love and affection. Filled with self loathing, stuck in an absolutely appalling life, her only relief is to daydream.

Daniels once again demonstrates his unique skill in left of field casting and squeezing outstanding performances from his actors. Precious is offered hope and comfort by concerned, but not that likeable social worker (Carey) and a caring nurse’s aide (Lenny Kravitz) who shows her unconditional kindness. Paula Pattern (Déjà Vu, Swing Vote) is the teacher who pushes precious to stop her self-loathing and break the binds of illiteracy.

“Precious” premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and the 2009 Cannes Film Festival to rave reviews and oodles of awards have followed. This story of physical and mental abuse, the helplessness of the lives of black Americans living in a perpetual cycle of welfare poverty open’s the audience’s eyes to the sorry state of the disadvantages in America.  I came away feeling drained from traipsing through the lower depths of human behaviour rather than uplifted by the theme of self improvement.  This is a thinking movie and not suitable for a date night out!

 

Editors Note: Precious is in Cinemas in Australia February 2010.

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