Gabourey Sidibe was robbed of the Oscar. I finally got to watch this movie and I have to say while I liked Meryl Streep in “Julie and Julia” and Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”, neither role was as challenging or over such an emotional range as the load of this role of Precious was for this young actress and she handled it amazingly well.
“Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire” was directed by Lee Daniels and stars Gabourey Sidibe as Precious, a young illiterate, overweight teen living in Harlem who is pregnant with her second child by her father and has been kicked out of school. She is given a second chance at life in an alternative school to work towards earning her G.E.D. It was no shock at all to see Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry as producers on this film.
Precious is doomed from the start by Mary played by Mo’Nique in the role that won her an Academy Award this year. This mother is so selfish that she can’t even protect her daughter from being sexually abused and as she grows older, Mary grows jealous and resentful of Precious and abuses her physically and emotionally. Mo’Nique’s Mary is frightening and shocking and in many sad ways, pathetic. Mo’Nique and Gabourey both ran the gauntlet of emotions in their roles and probably both should have won Academy Awards.
Gabourey Sidibe’s Precious deals with serious hardships beyond what any person should ever have to face every single day between being mistreated by classmates, kids on the street, and her own family. Her weight issues result from a combination of starving when they don’t have money to buy food and being forced to eat as punishment by Mary when she is told she doesn’t cook the food right. Mary’s complete dependence on her daughter and treatment of her as property creates a hold over Precious that is very difficult to break, especially when Precious wants to imagine Mary as a more caring mother in her dream world. What is most amazing to me with all the burdens of Precious’ life with her education, her children, and her health is that she gets though the movie without ever giving up completely. She works really hard to learn to read and improve her situation and break out of the cycle of abuse. She goes through anger, bawling her eyes out despair, and the happiness that comes with having hope.
The teacher at the alternative school, Ms. Rain is played by Paula Patton. She is beautiful and handles the burden of helping these kids with grace and realism not often seen in typical movies about helping underprivileged kids. She genuinely cares and tries to connect without letting them walk all over her. This part of the story I’ve seen a ton of times with a teacher helping underprivileged kids but this is the best version I’ve seen since it didn’t fall into cliches the way they usually do so easily. Mariah Carey takes on the best role I’ve ever seen from her by letting herself be completely real in appearance as a welfare worker, Mrs. Weiss. That kind of honesty combined with such a genuine performance really helped bring this movie together.
I really enjoyed the directing style and editing on this film. Precious often jumps into a fantasy of modeling or performing when she is in a difficult situation she wants to escape. I loved the way the film styles of glamor, photoshop, still images, and sparkle were split with gritty, dark, fluorescent lit reality.
Everything that could go wrong pretty much went wrong in this character’s life so keep in mind when you consider watching this film that it is HEAVY in drama and sadness and a bad situation that keeps seeming to get worse. If you have a lot of trouble watching really down, depressing movies, you’ll want to avoid this, but if you like crazy emotional rides than this is for you.
This story is often sad, shocking, depressing, uplifting, and always….precious.