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Precious: Based on the Novel

2009 drama film directed by Lee Daniels about the struggles of an abused obese teenaged African-American girl.

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Not so precious

  • Aug 26, 2010
  • by
I had high hopes for Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire after seeing the hype and awards it received. Indeed, I did think the acting was great, and appreciate the innovative use of camera technique. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the overall product.

Part of the problem is that the film simply piles a lot of depressing twists and turns without any variation or break. I don't want to sound hard-hearted here - I understand that some people unfortunately do find themselves in such depressing situations. However, even movies that focus on hardship usually have some variation in the amount of depression plot twists they throw at the audience. For example, some movies show a character's hardship, but then end with her triumphant redemption. Other movies chose to intersperse moments of levity throughout the movie so viewers don't become dulled to the character's pain. I think The Pursuit of Happyness (Widescreen Edition) does this beautifully (I almost did cry for that one). This is CRUCIAL because in order for audiences to sympathize with a character, they have to like that character first.

Precious does none of that. Instead, it feels like the director is trying desperately to make his audience tear up by throwing one misery after another, without ever giving us a reason to like Precious herself. While I felt sorry for her plight, she also comes across as devoid of common sense and rude. She calls her child with Down Syndrome "mongoloid" (a racist term for Asians). Her greatest joy seems to be stealing a bucket of fried chicken. Meanwhile I never found any inner strength or inspiration in her that made me really want to root for her. Without that emotional anchor, I found myself becoming overwhelmed and ultimately desensitized to what she was experiencing. By the end of Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire, rather than cry, I felt like, "oh, so that's how the directors managed to make her life more miserable..."

There were a few times when the movie tries to lighten up, but these fail. For example, the scenes when she fantasizes about becoming a star were just way too long, and the style jarred too much with the rest of the film. Precious playing with her newborn baby in the pool and dunking him in the water was (I think) intended to be a moment of joy, but all I could help thinking was that this girl should not be allowed to keep the baby! Likewise, the ending doesn't really inspire much hope or warmth. In fact, the denouement happened so quickly I almost missed it.

I really wish I could give this film a higher rating. It does educate viewers about the very real problems that some young women struggle with every day. Also, again, the acting is superb. Unfortunately, rather than be drawn in emotionally, I felt detached from Precious. It's too bad, because just a few changes could have made this work so well.

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More Precious: Based on the Novel '... reviews
review by . April 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
PRECIOUS       I have always been a fan of Tyler Perry and any thing he puts his hands on, so of course I had to see this. I knew that this would be great when Perry was announced as a producer, he was the main reason I wanted to see this. Then I found out that Mo'Nique was starring in it, which made me really interested since she is a comedian. Needless to say I was not disappointed by this film at all, this is a very powerful film. I also must say that the hype this film received …
review by . July 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
When I first began hearing about a film based on a book by someone named Sapphire, I felt the same twitch of skepticism that I always feel when learning about a one-named person. To make matters worse, I've got a lot of admiration for Oprah, but it's seemed to me for a long time that if she recommends a movie or a book, it will probably be the kind that makes me cry. I don't mind a good cry every now and then, but when I anticipate crying before a movie even starts, whether my anticipation …
review by . August 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I had high hopes for Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire after seeing the hype and awards it received. Indeed, I did think the acting was great, and appreciate the innovative use of camera technique. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the overall product.      Part of the problem is that the film simply piles a lot of depressing twists and turns without any variation or break. I don't want to sound hard-hearted here - I understand that some people …
review by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I now understand what the hype is about.  This is a very thought provoking and brutally honest movie about a girl who was consistently raped by her father and both verbally and physically abused by her mother.  The only thing that keeps her sane throughout these horrors is to imagine herself as a Cinderella at the Ball kind of character.      Precious is failing school but one teacher recognizes in her, an aptitude for math.  The guidence counseler recommends …
Quick Tip by . January 02, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
There was a lot of hype surronding this film especially going into award season, from the acting to the film itself.  Me personally I think it lived up to it and was well worth it, great job especially from the actors.
review by . July 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
What Pompted You to write a Review?   I enjoyed this movie, very touching     How was the Plot, Acting, Direction?   awesome, I was very impressed with the acting     Were You ENTERTAINED?   yes, but sometimes I couldn't look      Did It Fulfill Expectations? Hype Level?      yes Did a Movie Trailer Establish a HYPE?      somewhat, I did see a lot of commercials, but it …
review by . March 11, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Precious is a very difficult film to watch, the subject matter is really hard to swallow - a father that rapes his daughter many times, an abusive mother, and how that girl, Precious, lives with the damage done. This is a compelling movie, one that plays over and over for many women, more than should ever have to feel what Precious felt.    My initial reaction to the film was one of predictability, amazement at Mo'Nique's performance, and yes it was a sad movie with a silver …
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A very sad yet inspiring film that shows us even through the darkest of times we can dream and change our lives. Mo'Nique is amazing in this film.
review by . March 12, 2010
I meant to write a review of "Precious" even before I watched it. Lots of times, writing the review is more satisfying than watching the film. This is harder. I felt my heart constrict in the first scene of Precious. My eyes and temple began to throb. I could scarcely catch my breath the rest of the way through the film. "Life" requires too much of us sometimes. Sometimes even a simulation of Life requires too much.    Improbable as it may seem, coming from a retired classical …
Quick Tip by . March 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Despite being cliche and predictable, this film packs an emotional punch that will knock you flat. Superbly acted!!!
About the reviewer
Dominic J Nardi ()
Ranked #39
I am a recent law school grad with an interest in Southeast Asia legal issues. Unfortunately for my checkbook, ever since high school I have been addicted to good books. I have eclectic tastes, although … more
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About this movie


Precious is a 2009 American drama film directed by Lee Daniels. Precious is an adaptation by Geoffrey S. Fletcher of the 1996 novel Push by Sapphire. The film stars Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, and Paula Patton. The film marked the acting debut of Sidibe.

Obese, illiterate teenager Clareece "Precious" Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) lives in Harlem with her dysfunctional family; she has been impregnated twice by her father and is in a destructive relationship with her mother (Mo'Nique). Precious is invited to an alternative school where she hopes that her life can change direction.

The film, then without a distributor, premiered to acclaim at both the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, under its original title of Push: Based On The Novel By Sapphire. At Sundance, it won the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize for best drama, as well as a Special Jury Prize for supporting actress Mo'Nique. After Precious' screening at Sundance in February 2009, Tyler Perry announced that he and Oprah Winfrey would be providing promotional assistance to the film, which was released through Lions Gate Entertainment. Precious won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. The film's title was changed from Push to Precious:

Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, to avoid confusion with the 2009 action film Push. Precious was also an official selection at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival ...
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Movies, Drama Movies, Movie Adaptations, Oscars, African American Movies, Cannes Films


Director: Lee Daniels
Genre: Drama
Release Date: November 6, 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Geoffrey Fletcher
DVD Release Date: March 9, 2010
Runtime: 109 minutes
Studio: Lionsgate, Lee Daniels Entertainment
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