Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Precious" a film not soon forgotten

TITLE: "Precious"
DIRECTOR: Lee Daniels
STARS: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Lenny Kravitz
EDITOR: Joe Klotz
AWARDS: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Oscar), Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Published or Produced (Oscar)
BOX OFFICE: $47,395,661
RUN TIME: 109 min.
VIEWING FORMAT: Netflix Streaming

"Precious" is the story of a girl who's life has had more than its fair share of hard times. The morbidly obese teen from the inner city is a victim of incest, rape, lack of education (though not of intelligence), an abusive mother, and she is a mother herself at the age of fifteen. With everything going against her, Precious has every reason to look down on life. Will she, or will she rise above her struggles to become the mother she never had?

This film is the first "contemporary classic" to be reviewed on this site. It was released in 2009, and since that time has had a wide cultural impact. Positive reviews, a winning run at Sundance, and record breaking box office earnings (only having a $10 million budget to begin with) helped to catapult this film into a cultural phenomenon.

This film's strong point comes from the performances and story. Mo'Nique won an Oscar (as well as many other major awards) for her performance as the abusive mother of Precious. She has said in interviews that the film was a sort of catharsis for her to deal with her own sexually abusive childhood.

Sidibe's first performance could shape up to be her best, only time will tell. The Oscar nominee carried the film strongly, and made her character believable, even when the circumstances seemed almost too horrific to be true. She lead a supporting cast of wonderful actors, and continually grounded the film, and kept the audience entranced in her story.

That is where the magic lies; the story. This film is hard. It deals with real issues that are very hard to acknowledge, and even harder to watch. The depiction this film gives of the inner city, and primarily African-American, is despicable at the best of times. The things this teenager has to deal with are universal though. So many people struggle, or have struggled, with something that Precious herself is going through. It was this honest take on a hard truth that attracted the attention of both Oprah and Tyler Perry, who both helped to promote the film, and can be credited with helping its overall box office take.

This film has inspired a generation to take action, and it inspires its viewers to stand up for themselves. It is moving. So much so, that it has already taken its place in film history as one of the all time great American dramas.

"Precious" may lack a certain filmmaking finesse (did Lee Daniels really earn his Oscar nomination?), but it makes up for any faults with the strong story, characters, and performances.

This is not a movie to watch with friends on a Friday night. Take the time and sit down and pay attention to this film. It can move the viewer in intricate ways. While it could have easily crossed over to melodrama, it never lets the audience feel cheap or cheated.

The hardest parts of the film can also be its best. Not every life is as great as "Leave it to Beaver" would have someone believe. The reactions that Precious gives towards her many situations are where the beauty lies. A wonderful human being, plagued with atrocious circumstances, and she still carries on, with her head held high.

Give "Precious" a chance. It is not for children, but this writer feels that adults of this generation should take the time to appreciate a hard and tragic film that presents truth, no matter how hard. Rent this this coming weekend, instead of some sequel. This is a film that will not soon be forgotten.

MY IMDb RATING: 8 out of 10

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