Film Review: PRECIOUS: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire.

I saw Precious this weekend, on its 3rd weekend and expansion of theaters (only 629 and has so far grossed to almost $15M in its 15 days this week...very impressive considering it only played limited on its opening weekend debut, much like the small expansion, and its small widest release of 629 theater locations) nationwide as it finally was showing in my local theaters. I've been waiting and looking forward to seeing this film since I heard this movie was being filmed and Mariah Carey (my favorite singer) was cast in a small role as Mrs. Weiss. Also, I've read the novel "Push" by Sapphire this movie was based from. Like Oscar's Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire, Precious (the lil' Independent film) has been getting tons of standing O's and rave reviews as well as won several Audience Awards in various film festivals such as Sundance, Toronto, and Chicago Film festivals to name a few. So, I've been following this film and got so excited when I finally saw it. It was definitely worth the wait, one of the BEST films I've seen this year (so far). The theater (screening room) I saw it with was full, despite its tough competition of New Moon. Precious is doing pretty good for a lil' indie movie, much like Slumdog Millionaire did last year.

Here's my review of ...

[Warning! ... for those who haven't seen this movie and don't want to be spoiled...]

Starring: Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz, and introducing Gabourey Sidibe

Watch the trailers for Precious

[source: hollywoodstreams]

[source: ToastyxD] 

Set in Harlem in 1987, it is the story of Claireece Precious Jones, a sixteen-year-old African-American girl born into a life no one would want. Shes pregnant for the second time by her absent father; at home, she must wait hand and foot on her mother, a poisonously angry woman who abuses her emotionally and physically. School is a place of chaos, and Precious has reached the ninth grade with good marks and an awful secret: she can neither read nor write. Precious may sometimes be down, but she is never out. Beneath her impassive expression is a watchful, curious young woman with an inchoate but unshakeable sense that other possibilities exist for her. Threatened with expulsion, Precious is offered the chance to transfer to an alternative school, Each One/Teach One. Precious doesnt know the meaning of alternative, but her instincts tell her this is the chance she has been waiting for. In the literacy workshop taught by the patient yet firm Ms. Rain, Precious begins a journey that will lead her from darkness, pain and powerlessness to light, love and self-determination.

I must say Precious based on the novel Push by Sapphire was an amazing film. One of (if not) the BEST films I've seen this year and even more so as it was powerful, disturbing, moving, thought-provoking, relatable, emotional, funny, realistically portrayed (by its incredible cast especially Gabby Sidibe as Precious, Mo'Nique as Precious' mother Mary, Mariah Carey as the social worker Miss Weiss, and Paula Patton as Precious' teacher Miss Rain) inspiring, and uplifting film I've seen in a long time. It makes you think and makes you grateful about your own precious life that's nothing compared to what Precious was going through. The story was very powerful, moving, disturbing, and inspiring (which you can read more about this film's synopsis above in this review). I've read the novel several months ago and this film is as great as the novel. In my opinion, this film was even better than the novel as it not only was very well made, the visual and presentation not too mention the incredible performances by the entire cast were simply amazing to watch.

Lee Daniels did an incredible job directing this film as well as casting the mostly unknown actors you'd never thought in a million years you'd see together, and so unbeliebably doing a great job portraying their characters so realistically and brilliantly especially comedian/acress Mo'Nique. You mostly see her as someone funny in her films, but in this one she was mostly very serious (like you've never seen her before), but at the same time still unintentionally funny (she had the best and some funny one-liners in this film, lol) as Mary, Precious' monster mom. She was amazing in this film. She owned this film as far the huge impact and huge portrayal of her character she played in this powerful film, but also gave room for the new comer actress Gabby Sidibe who portrayed the title character Precious (I'll talk more about her in a bit) and the incredible supporting cast like Paula Patton, Mariah Carey (yes, Mariah was as great as the rest of the cast), Sherri Shepherd, and Lenny Kravitz as well as the other minor supporting cast who portrayed Precious classmates at her alternative school (they were funny especially Jo Ann and the Jamaican girl, lol).

Back to Mo'Nique, she was just incredible in this film. If anyone deserves a Best Supporting Actress award in this film or any other film released this year  be it Critics, Oscar, Golden Globe, or SAG awards, it's her. She's definitely a lock for various award nominations for this, but winning would be equally deserving. She already won a special Jury Prize for Acting award at last January's Sundance Film Festival (where Precious earned 3 incredible awards including Mo'Nique's award and an Audience Award).

Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe as Precious was amazingly incredible. She played the title character brilliantly and so believable. I can't believe Gabby is 26 years old in real life, she played the 16 year old, illiterate, impregnated twice by her own father, and severely physically and emotionally abused by her mother so believable, so moving, and so so amazingly good that you're affected with her character and how you feel bad, sorry, and cheer for her throughout the film from beginning and especially through the end. She was as impressive as Mo'Nique and did such an such an incredible job on her first film debut. She and Mo'Nique were equally impressive and amazing in this film, they both deserved to win numerous acting awards. Gabby has already received a New Hollywood Award recently from the Hollywood Film Fest Awards as well as a Breakthrough Performance Award at the Chicago Film Festival.

Paula Patton as Miss Rain, Precious' teacher in the alternative school Each One, Teach One was great (she was also honored with an Artist to Watch for Precious at the Aspen Film Fest). She was moving and inspiring in Precious' life when Precious enrolled her class. She helped Precious how to read and overcome her difficult situation at home. I especially loved her scene with Precious when Precious was crying in tears and was feeling worthless. It made me cry when she said to Precious, "But your baby loves you. I LOVE YOU." That line was so powerful and so inspiring, everyone in the theater were in awe and in tears.

What Precious has gone through was too much and difficult to imagine. It's incredible that after all the horror and abuse she went through from her own parents, she manages to persevered and get through what she went through as hard and difficult her life (and only 16- 17 years old) was. She push(ed) (like the novel's title) herself literally and made a huge effort to do something about it and educate herself too. It really makes you think about your own life and how lucky you are that if you're complaining about your own life it's probably nothing compared to Precious' unfortunate and difficult life, but you can also relate and has seen this type of situation happen in real-life, be it someone in your family, someone you know in your neighborhood, or a friend. This film was fiction-yet-so realistically portrayed. It's amazing. Precious touches your heart and makes you think about the more important things in life. Like the film's awesome tagline: Life is hard. Life is short. Life is Painful. Life is Rich. Life is...Precious. It makes you think and look at your own life. Very powerful.

Mariah Carey as the social worker, Mrs. Weiss who tried to help Precious was de-glammed and amazing in this film even though she had a small part. I wasn't too surprised how great she was as she did great in Wisegirls and have heard rave reviews of her performance in Tennessee (I have yet to see this, unfortunately, it was on limited release last June and will be released on DVD Jan. 26, 2010), which Lee Daniels produced. Mariah was really good on this film. I was very impressed and proud of her (she's been getting critical rave reviews and Oscar buzz, and as I write this review, I just heard that Palm Spring International Film Festival will honor her with a Breakthrough Performance Award for her acting in Precious on January 5th, 2010). I must say, her acting has improved a lot since Wisegirls (Glitter don't count, lol) and she was so good here that I forgot that I was watching the glamourous and iconic singer Mariah Carey. In this film, she totally transformed herself into her character Mrs. Weiss. I'm so glad (and proud and happy for her) that she's a part of this incredible film and wouldn't be surprise if she gets a SAG, Golden Globe, and Oscar nods 'cause she was that good.

Sherri Shepherd was also so good here as Cornrows and Lenny Kravitz as John, the handsome male nurse. Precious' Each One Teach One classmates were as good as the rest of the cast. They were also so funny esp. Jo Ann (with her funny one-liners: "My favorite color is fluorescent beige," lol) and the Jamaican girl just made me and the audience laugh. They were the people in Precious' life that made her smile and laugh. So, their scenes were as important as the tough scenes were. Also, Precious' fantasy sequences (without them would've been fine as well) were necessary for this film because of the tough times she was going through and young girls (or children in general) who goes through this painful life experiences as at a young age as Precious was in this film often create imaginary friends or fantasize themselves into an alternate, better they fit and balances out in this film esp. those tough and disturbing scenes between Precious and her monster mother's scene to watch that you didn't see coming.

The vital and climactic ending scene between Mary, Precious, and Mrs. Weiss was very powerful, moving, and emotional. It made you understand why Mary did what she did to Precious, even though her character didn't really redeemed herself. You do empathized on her, but you cheer more for Precious and what she had to go through and how she got through it.

Some of my Favorite (and Memorable) Lines from Precious:

Mary [to Precious]: You are a dummy. Don't nobody want you. Don't nobody need you. School ain't gonna help none. Take your ass down to welfare!

Mary[to Precious]: Oh, so you're going to stand up there and look down at me like you're a woman? You don't know what real women do! Real women sacrifice!

Mrs. Weiss: Let's talk about the abuse in your household. You know what I'm talking about.
Mary: You sit there and you judge me, and you write them notes on your notepad, because you think you know who I am
Mrs. Weiss: You know, let's talk about your father. Tell me about your relationship with him.
Precious: I don't know much more than you do, Mrs. White.
Mrs. Weiss: That's Mrs. "Weiss." Talk to me about the little you do know about your father. It is important, whether you know it or not.
Mrs. Weiss: Wait, what did you say he gave you?
Precious: Nothing.
Mrs. Weiss: Wait, Clareece, you just said your father gave you something...
Precious: Nothing.
Mrs. Weiss: No, I HEARD you just say...
Precious: You didn't hear shit.
Mrs. Weiss: I heard you just say your father...
Precious: You didn't hear shit like it!
Mrs. Weiss: I don't care, honey! I need to know this!
Precious: [Overlapping with Mrs. Weiss' voice] I didn't say nothing like it! Let's move ON!
Mrs. Weiss: I need this to HELP you...
Precious: [Angrily] Bitch, can we change the subject?
Mrs. Weiss: Okay. Well, I'll see you next time then. Or maybe you'll see someone else. But you're going to have to talk to someone if you want your check, sweetie.

Precious: You don't even like me.
Mrs. Weiss: Have we not been in this room together for like, a year discussing your life?
Precious: Does that mean we like each other because we discussing my life?
Mrs. Weiss: [Smiling] Well, I can't speak for you. I can only speak for me, and I like you. I do. 

Jo Ann: I'm Jo Ann. (waving enthusiastically) Hi! My favorite color is
fluorescent beige. My ambition is to have my own record player.

Precious: ...Sometimes I see vampires too.
They come for me sometimes and they
say that I am one of them. They
say, "Precious, you belong wif us."
MS. Weiss: How do you respond to them?
Precious: I say, "Check wif my muver." After
that, they just look at me and go
down through the floor. The family
downstairs is vampires so that's
where they should go.

Precious: Nobody love me. Thas a lie.
MS. Rain: People do love you Precious.
Precious: Please don't lie Miz Rain! Love?!
Me?! Love rape me, beat me, call me
animal, get me sick and make me
feel wurfless.
MS. Rain: But your baby loves you. *I* love you!

Precious: My name is Clareece Precious Jones. I want to be on the cover of a magazine. I wish a had a light-skinned boyfriend with good hair. But first I want to be in one of those BET videos.

Precious [V.O.]:  They talk like TV channels I don't watch.

Overall, this film was as I said, simply the BEST, brilliant, thought-provoking, disturbing, emotional, funny, cathartic, moving, powerful, incredible, life-changing, inspiring, uplifting, and a MUST SEE. The directing and the pacing of the film were superb as does the acting of the incredible cast. They should be nominated for BEST Ensemble cast come awards season esp. SAG who honors and recognizes ensemble cast. I will definitely be rooting for this film to get GG, SAG, Critics, and Oscars (to name a few) nods and wins. It is worthy and deserving whether it wins or not in those awards to get nomination and recognition. I highly recommend you see this film. GO SEE IT!

My Precious Film Rating: ! (10/10; A+)


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