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Precious (2009)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
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Overall Rating 73%
Overall Rating
Ranked #1,220
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Set in Harlem in 1987, Claireece "Precious" Jones is a 16-year-old African American girl born into a life no one would want. She's pregnant for the second time by her absent father; at home, she must wait hand and foot on her mother, an angry woman who abuses her emotionally and physically. School is chaotic and Precious has reached the ninth grade with good marks and a secret - she can't read. --TMDb
Gabourey Sidibe
Gabourey Sidibe
Mo'Nique
Mo'Nique
Paula Patton
Paula Patton
Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey
Sherri Shepherd
Sherri Shepherd
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: November 17, 2009
I don't ever want to see this film again. Why? It was, without a doubt, the most difficult film I have ever had to watch. I sat there -- mouth agape, eyes wide (wanting to cover them, but unable to do so). "Precious", based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire, is the finest cinematic achievement of 2009 and one of the most powerful pieces of contemporary cinema I have ever seen. Going in, I had heard all the hype -- read the reviews, followed the buzz post-Sundance. Nothing could have prepared me for the emotional rollercoaster ride this film takes the audience on, from the opening narration to the last shot of Precious walking down the street.

The film is about Clarice 'Precious' Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), a morbidly obese 16-year-old girl who can't read and is pregnant with the second child by her father. She does poorly in school, hates who she is and is confined at home with and mentally and physically abused by her vicious and tyrannical mother, Mary (Mo'Nique). Mary hates Precious for the fact that her husband had sex with her and she takes this aggression out on Precious in just about every horrific way possible. When Precious starts attending an alternative school to help her learn to read and get her GED, Ms. Rain (Paula Patton) takes a special interest in her and that is when Precious begins to see more optimism in her future, though it always has a tendency to be brought back down. The film is about the struggle Precious undergoes to break away from the chains holding her down and take care of herself for the first time in her entire life. It's a film about hope, determination and stark and frightening realism.

What director Lee Daniels has done here is nothing short of miraculous. "Precious" rolls along like a freight train and never lets up. There are a few stops along the way for some lightness, but this is an intense and dark piece of cinema. Newcomer Gabourey Sidibe is fantastic as Precious, a natural actress who brings a levity to every word that comes out of her mouth. I hope she is able to continue with a strong career after a role that is so obviously more fitting for her physically. Mariah Carey is almost unrecognizable and is just wonderful as the social worker assigned to Precious' case and she has the dubious task of overseeing a heartbreaking final confrontation between Precious and her mother. Paula Patton and Lenny Kravitz are equally convincing in their roles. But it's Mo'Nique who commands attention in this film. She has solidified a Best Supporting Actress statue and she really does deliver one of the most villainous and powerful performances I have ever seen. She's only in four scenes in the film, but each one is like a sledgehammer to the head.

This film boasts such an impressive and odd cast that I have to commend Lee Daniels again for pulling these natural and convincing performances out of his actors. No celebrity in this film is treated as such and everyone is stripped down to their essence and presented to the audience. The film is produced by Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey after their acquired it post-Sundance and I hope Tyler Perry pays attention and sees how a film centered on African-American characters is suppose to be made. "Precious" is the finest film of the year, a true achievement and a heartbreaking journey. A must see. 10/10.
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