Saturday, July 24, 2010

Precious Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire

Directed by Lee Daniels.
2009. Rated R, 110 minutes.
Gabourey Sidibe
Paula Patton
Lenny Kravitz
Stephanie Andujar
Chyna Lane
Mariah Carey
Sherri Shepherd
Armina Robinson

Plot: 16 year-old Precious (Sidibe) tries to navigate life through a maze of abuse.

The Good: Realism jumps off the screen. Every word of it simply feels true. This makes the fantasies Precious uses as a way to endure pain extremely effective and sad. Sidibe pulls off each emotion flawlessly, in the lead role. However, as good as she is, the movie would go nowhere without the powerhouse performance of Mo'Nique as her mom. She never makes a false acting choice and really brings the movie home during its closing moments. It's a role in which she could've easily pushed too much and come off as cartoonishly psychotic. To her credit, and the movie's benefit, she never crosses that line. This makes [i]Precious[/i] a true-to-life horror film and her character, a splendid villain. Also to the movie's benefit, it doesn't take the easy way out. To the contrary, when the end-credits start rolling, Precious is in a better place than when we first meet her but there is much uncertainty about her future. Her life can go in any number of different directions, some good and some bad.

The Bad: With an almost all-female cast, it falls into what I call "The Color Purple Trap." In that movie about a similarly abused woman, men generally come off as the enemy. Here, there are only a few male characters, the father, some guys that hang out in front of a building Precious has to pass every day and Nurse John. Only Nurse John, a surprisingly pretty decent acting Lenny Kravitz by the way, has any redeeming qualities whatsoever. However, even he is of needlessly ambiguous purpose. Finally, the relationship between Precious' mom and grand-mom could've been explored a little further, shedding more light on what may have happened before our hero was even born.

The Ugly: Her dad's parting gift.

Recommendation: This is a movie that repeatedly hits you over the head with its very ugly truth and it never pulls any punches. Though its qualified as a family drama, even a chick-flick, it's really an urban horror film, frightening and heart-wrenching because this may be going on next door. One of my favorite "scary" movies is Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Its power lies in the fact that Henry is not Freddy Krueger or Jason of some other supernatural killing machine but someone so unassuming you might have sat next to him at a bar or in a diner and completely forgotten about unless he were actually trying to kill you. There are no serial killers here, but the fear generated is much the same. Therefore, we feel each tragedy and triumph with our hero and our thoughts about what will happen to her next linger on, after the movie has ended.

The Opposite View: Dana Stevens, Slate

What the Internet Says: 7.5/10 on (7/24/10), 91% on, 79/100 on

MY SCORE: 10/10

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