Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Review - Precious

Precious follows a year in the life of Clarice “Precious” Johnson, an illiterate inner-city teen who is pregnant with her second child and suffers in an abusive household. When under intolerable stress, Precious escapes into daydreams about being a glamourous and universally adored model, but it’s never long before she is snapped back into reality. With the help of a kindly teacher and a well-meaning social worker, Precious tires to pull herself out of skid row and give a better life to each of her children, but as always, the harshness of life intervenes once again.

Pulled off wonderfully be a tremendous ensemble, Precious presents one of the most emotionally raw films of the year. Gabourey Sidibe, often costumed in orange to accentuate how special her character is, gives a crushingly beautiful performance. Paula Patton is firm but tender has her teacher, and the class she teaches is a colourful and perfectly chosen bunch. Even Mariah Carrey is convincing in her brief but crucial role. But make no mistake, this show belongs to one actor and one actor alone: Mo’Nique, who I’m sure you’ve already read everybody rave about, owns every scene she’s in with an effortless tenacity. Her presence seems to grow more monstrous as the story proceeds, culminating in a climactic tour de force at the film’s finale that stands as the single greatest acting moment of the year.

Lee Daniels guides this movie with love and care, although claims that it is a bit overdirected aren’t misplaced. It does have a few too many editing gimmicks. More credit is owed to Geoffrey Fletcher’s superb adaptation of the novel Push.

Intense, authentic, gut-wrenching, and genuinely moving, Precious is among the year’s best. Oscar nods for Picture, Actress, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, and Film Editing are all but assured. Director? Maybe. The field is awfully crowded, and if the Academy prefers to continue coddling Clint Eastwood, Daniels could be squeezed out.

***1/2 out of ****


Tom (Motion Picture Gems) said...

Are there any scenes where the teachers speak to Precious about her weight? Such as tenderly encouraging her to lose weight. Does Precious try to do that? Also, I don't think I will go see this movie until someone tells me if the mother (Mo'nique) apologizes to Precious for everything she said (wishes she had her aborted, etc.)

The Oscar Nazi said...

Not really, Tom. Precious' weight is the least of her problems.
Her mother does make a thin attempt at an appology and reunion with her daughter, but it is really more self-pitying than appologetic.