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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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"Precious" Survives Hype

  • Jul 18, 2010
Rating:
+4

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 is based on a review saying something along the lines of "it'll make you cry" or simply a DVD case that looks really depressing, I'm usually pretty annoyed. That being said, I cried watching "Precious," and I even forgot to google Sapphire's real name.

Director Lee Daniels has made a film that accomplishes something truly wonderful: Daniels manipulates the inherent limitations of film to make something that is penetrating and moving, and yet moves quickly enough to keep the viewer from being sucked into any one of the horrific moments in "Precious." When Precious', played with so much understatement and honesty by Gabourey Sidibe, is charged by her delusional and abusive mother (Mo'Nique), we see the chase up the stairs and we hear the fight, but then next we see the calm after the storm: Precious sits calmly looking at photographs on her bed while her mother watches TV.

The entire film, with but a few brief exceptions, is just like this. Daniels, at least in this film, seems to understand what Alfred Hitchcock knew so well: if you show people only the edges of violence and terror, the moment stays with them a lot longer. That makes Precious' courage in the face of her struggles all the more remarkable. Instead of focusing on the grisly details of incest, rape, and other physical abuse, Daniels shows us the reality if these things in Precious' life by focusing on what happens before and after. And the long and short of it is that Precious, like so many people who have such enormous obstacles to happiness in their lives, takes those heart-breaking moments and makes something of them. 

The film does have it's drawbacks, however, namely the things that make it so successful. "Precious" takes on some pretty heavy subjects that so many people don't want to talk about, and one of the ways it presents those subjects to large audiences is to not dwell on them. And while Daniels' approach to violence and horror is effective and full of impact, it also makes the pacing of the narrative feel lopsided and uneven until you get used to it, and even then, sometimes I found myself wanting to keep crying but the scene had moved on, or wanting to savor the details of some beautiful cinematography when something mundane but nonetheless distracting happens. 

"Precious," like all art, has its flaws, but it keeps coming back into my head, and I know that the next time I watch it I'll learn something new. That's the stamp of a good film.














 

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October 23, 2010
Great review...I completely agree! I loved this film and the horror that this one girl had to endure is unbelievable. I liked how Daniels wove in Precious' fantasy with her reality. You can completely see why she would want to escape at that exact moment. I loved it so much, I went out and got the book, Push, which is even more intense (giving you fair warning!).Mo'nique was amazing...it was nice to see her in a non-comedic role!
 
July 19, 2010
Excellent review! I still have to see this and for some reason, I was like on the fence but your review just made me bump it up in my netflix queve. Sorry I missed this for yesterday's newsletter but I will feature it in the homepage now.
July 19, 2010
Thanks! I was on the fence for a long time, too, but I definitely think it's worth the watch.
 
1
More Precious: Based on the Novel '... reviews
review by . April 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
SOME OF THE BEST ACTING EVER
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 . 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
Caption
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 …
review by . August 26, 2010
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 …
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
Matthew Fullen ()
Ranked #197
I'm a writer, composer, and cat-owner. It should be noted that in my house, my cat is boss...so I guess what I should say is that I am a cat ownee, writer, and composer. I've just graduated from … more
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Wiki

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.


Plot
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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Tags

Movies, Drama Movies, Movie Adaptations, Oscars, African American Movies, Cannes Films

Details

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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