Well I had to take matters into my own hands. Again. It has been over a month since "Precious" was released and central Iowa STILL had not gotten it. At this rate, it looks like it's not going to happen. I decided I could not wait until next year to watch the dvd so I went to my "special" site to watch it. I lucked up and got a version that was excellent quality so it was almost like I was watching the dvd.
The fact that I had to resort to such means had me thinking about how bad the studio really screwed the pooch on this one. They have a film that was getting HUGE buzz across the nation and they release it in limited theaters only? That means impatient folks like me will see it by other means which won't include the theater. Which also means the studio loses money. They should have capitalized on the great press they were getting, gave it a broader release and more people could have bought tickets. Bad BAD move, Lionsgate.
Anyway, "Precious" is set in Harlem in 1987 and tells the story of Claireece "Precious" Jones (brilliant newcomer Gabourey Sidibe), a sixteen-year-old African-American living a crap life no one would want. She’s pregnant for the second time by a father who raped her. At home, she must wait hand and foot on her mother (Mo’Nique), a poisonously angry woman who abuses her emotionally and physically. Despite attending a school where chaos seems to reign, Precious has managed to make it to the ninth grade with high marks. Even though she can't read or write.
When news of her second pregnancy reaches the school administration, Precious is threatened with expulsion She is offered the chance to transfer to an alternative school, Each One/Teach One. In the literacy workshop taught by unbelievably patient Blu Rain (Paula Patton), Precious begins a journey that provides her a positive role model and peers that she can consider friends. All of which are tiny beacons of light in her massive world of darkness.
I was never a Mo'Nique fan even before going into this film. She's made a name for herself as a comedienne telling fat jokes and being obnoxiously loud which was just never very funny to me. Then to make matters worse, she turns up here playing the WORST. MOTHER . EVER. You find yourself absolutely HATING her for how she treats her daughter AND her grandchildren. I can see why Mo'Nique didn't want to promote the movie because her role was such a horrible monster. So you are sitting there hating her as a person yet realizing that Mo'Nique did an AMAZING job in that role. I never would have guessed she had that in her. I gained a new found respect fro Mo'Nique's acting skills from this outstanding performance.
The one common theme I kept hearing was that "Precious" was one of the of most depressing movies ever. I thought that meant that there would be an unrelenting barrage of one bleak moment after another. That wasn't entirely the case. Most notably because they made it a point to take us away to bright spots right when Precious was hitting her worst moments. Such as when she was being raped by her father or when her mother was getting physically and/or emotionally abusive with her. The scene would always transform to Precious daydreaming about being in a photo shoot or on the red carpet. They did a great job of showing us her coping mechanisms while still reminding us that they are unfortunately temporary and Precious's situation still seems near hopeless.
My favorite thing overall about this movie was how the school is portrayed in a positive aspect and that FINALLY, the adult who is able to reach the troubled African-American student is an African-American herself. All of these "The Blind Side"/"Dangerous Minds"/"Freedom Writers" type movies were really annoying the hell out of me. They can talk all they want about how gloomy "Precious" was. I personally found Patton's character a refreshing change of pace from the typical Hollywood formula.
I was also very fond of how there never is complete closure. Precious's mother makes a feeble attempt to reconcile with her, but you get the distinct feel it was a ruse for her to keep the welfare coming. We also never see what becomes of Precious's permanent living arrangements or how she'll make it with her children. This gives the movie an unconventional remorseful ending. It doesn't tie up loose ends all neatly which adds even more bite to the already commanding nature of the film.
"Precious" is without question one of the most powerful movies I have ever seen. There are few flicks that will have scenes that have my mouth agape from disgust. Or even have me extremely grateful for the loving two parent household I grew up in. The acting across the board from the main characters to even the smaller players like Mariah Carey's social worker gives this film an outstanding punch. "Precious" is a definite must-see that will leave a lasting impression with you for quite a while.
My rating: A+