I went to see Precious expecting to tear up during the first scene and go through a box of tissues by the ending, but the trailer gave the wrong impression of this movie. And that is a very good thing. Yes, Precious, the 16 year old heroine of this story, is obese, functionally illiterate, expecting her second child by her father, and is constantly beaten and abused by her mother as Precious opens, but these smart filmmakers have crafted a story that handles all of this with a warm compliment of humor that doesn’t negate the horror, only makes it all the more real.
Precious could easily have slipped into a movie-of-the-week story as Precious finds herself saved by a bright and beautiful teacher in an alternative school, replete with a small class of misfits. But Lee Daniels’ direction keeps it away from cliché and melodrama, and the comic moments seem totally organic to the story. Gabourey ‘Gabby’ Sidibe who plays Precious will undoubtedly get a lot of well deserved attention for this role. This girl is at the bottom of the hopeless barrel, but her rich interior life, her fantasies of her light skinned boyfriend and her fabulous red carpet turns, sustains her through the worst of it.
Comedienne Mo’Nique as the monster of a mother is amazing; I see some nominations in her future as well. But she has been given great material to work with. The script by Geoffrey Fletcher adapted from Sapphire’s Push moves the story along at just the right pace and balances the nearly too hard to take with some sweet breathing room, and even at close to two hours running time, it flew by.
When I read that Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz and (especially) Sherri Shepherd and had roles in the film, I was not expecting much, but they are all very good actors; in fact, I was really surprised how good Mariah was.
I saw Precious at a film festival and I don’t think it is in wide release yet, but if it is near you, go. It is a wonderful film. You should bring a tissue or two, but be prepared to laugh, as well.