Precious (2009) Poster

(II) (2009)

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9/10
Once every so often...
ccrivelli20057 December 2009
Once every so often a film comes along that will change your perception of things. In one way or another it will give you elements to better yourself. "Precious" is such a film. Lee Daniels, the director, takes things to extremes, so much so that this could easily be an opera. When you think that things couldn't be worse, you discover that they have been worse already for a long time. Precious is played by a sort of miracle. Her name is Gubarey Sidibe and I don't even know how to pronounce it but I will certainly take her in my mind from now on, always. When she stands listening to the rantings of her mother, I surprised myself by feeling tears running down my face. The mother, a standout, once in a lifetime performance by Mo'Nique, is also a character we've never seen before. Brutal, unsentimental and truthful to the core. I saw the film over three weeks ago and I can't shake it out of my system, if that in itself is not a sign of greatness I don't know what is.
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6/10
Stunning performances but emotionally inconsistent
Monotreme0210 December 2009
I should start out by emphasizing that I disagree with much of the criticism the film has been receiving. A common disparagement condemns the movie as "emotionally manipulative" and "superficially inspirational", much like other films that fall into the category of the "inspirational dramas" depicting stories of individuals overcoming obstacles and hardships that many people seem to hate. Well, I personally found that the film portrays a reality far too bleak and dismal and brutal for it to possibly be considered "inspirational"; in addition, while the film ends on somewhat of a high note, even that is laced with misery and becomes the lesser of two evils for the protagonist. Another criticism of the film – and of the book it is based on – is from the opposite end of the spectrum, and blames the film for portraying TOO bleak a situation to the point of exploitation. I personally found the scenario portrayed in the film to be strikingly realistic, and I think that people who are too ignorant to realize that such a grim existence can feasibly be led in 21st century America need a serious wake-up call.

One aspect of the film that deserves all the praise in the world is its cast, specifically the performances of its lead actresses and the surprising and unexpected quality of these performances considering the particular thespians involved. First and foremost, we have the breakout role of Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe, portraying the overweight, twice-pregnant and illiterate protagonist, Precious. The performance is a revelation both because of how convincingly Sidibe reacts to and interacts with her brutal day-to-day existence, but also because of how completely removed it is from the first-time actresses' actual life. It's always impressive to see a performer convincingly convey difficult and profound emotions that they probably would never feel themselves in their real lives, but for a first-time actress to convey these emotions is particularly incredible. Precious' life is populated by three prominent adult characters; two of which see past her daunting exterior and genuinely want to help her, and one who does the exact opposite. Mariah Carey plays a social worker who takes a personal interest in Precious' case and, in the film's most dramatically gut-wrenching scene, makes a genuine attempt to bridge the gap between the teenager and her monstrous mother. Carey has only ever acted in two or three other films, including the atrocious vanity project "Glitter", but in this role, she de-glams, puts on a convincing and raspy accent and actually manages to deliver a surprisingly well rounded and convincing performance. Paula Patton plays another alternate mother figure in Precious' life, her teacher at her alternate school who takes a particularly personal interest in Precious, to the point of letter her stay at her home when she has nowhere else to go. Unlike Mariah Carey, Patton never did anything to totally remove my confidence in her acting abilities, but then again, she's never actually given what can really be considered a "good" performance, which is what makes her tender and genuine turn in this film most impressive. But the scene-stealer is without a doubt Mo'Nique, probably one of my LEAST favorite "comedic" performers who totally redeems herself and manages to deliver a frighteningly convincing performance, incredibly transforming herself into Precious' villainous, sadistic and purely evil mother. It is an incredible and difficult and extremely brave performance, and is even more impressive considering that it's coming from the star of "Phat Girlz".

The performances are rich and incredible enough to hold up dramatic scenes, but not the narrative as a whole, which, as I mentioned before, suffers from a series of bad directorial choices made by director Lee Daniels. The film's biggest flow is emotional inconsistency: in an attempt to portray Precious' inner feelings, Daniels injects strangely conceived fantasy sequences at key dramatic moments in which Precious imagines herself as a glamorous and famous personality. While the intention of these sequences is clear, their abruptness just totally jolts the audience out of the emotional flow of the film, and they just seem out of place. For a similar reason, Daniels chooses to set grim and dramatic scenes to oddly inappropriate songs and musical cues, which once again just feel forced and out of place, and interrupt the emotional resonance of the scenes. Other than that, the film just seems poorly done at times, or simply unfinished: the cinematography is inconsistent and often features zooms and loss of focus that don't feel like stylistic choices but rather just like mistakes. In addition, the editing is quite disjointed at times, and many cuts interrupt musical cues in the middle or otherwise are just so sudden and jumbled that they completely ruin the dramatic flow. Finally, I just felt that while many separate scenes work wonderfully and are emotional and genuinely gut-wrenching, they are just too loosely connected for the film to actually carry a consistent dramatic arc throughout, as it jumps between Precious' brutal home life to her newfound support in her classroom to her day-to-day activities to her inner fantasies. For example, a major dramatic reveal near the end of the film end sup completely ignored and thus irrelevant to the dramatic arc. As I mentioned earlier, the performances are absolutely spectacular, but the inconsistencies in the film's tone and its jumbled and odd editing take away from what otherwise could have been a genuinely affective film.
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10/10
a work of art
mukava9918 November 2009
Gabourey Sibide looks and sounds a lot like the late Hattie McDaniel; if a biopic about McDaniel is ever made, Sibide should star. Starting from this superficiality, it is clear that the character Sibide plays, an abused, obese late- 20th-century Harlem teenager three or four generations down the line from the McDaniels era, seems to embody a sadly ironic regression in the status of black women in America. Precious's very existence and her debased environment speak to a grave social disease that continues to poison our civilization – the creation and perpetuation of a dependent underclass. At one point Precious compares her self image to "black grease that needs to be wiped away." The horror of it all is that as dreadful as Precious's situation is, she is actually better off than many others in similar straits. She is, despite obesity, strong and healthy, drug free and has a beautiful smile. There are plenty of underclass females much closer to an early grave and utter hopelessness than she.

The story takes us on the journey of this monstrously mistreated young female from near destruction at the hands of her violent, hyper-narcissistic mother (Mo'Nique) and her rapist father (who has impregnated her twice by age 16) to a rescue with the help of a frayed but still somewhat viable network of dedicated social workers who help her gain literacy and independence from her wicked elders.

Interspersed with the depressing realities of ghetto life is the constant flow of Precious's glamorous daydreams, the little fires generated by her undying spark of life, her only opening toward beauty and light, imagining herself wrapped in beautiful gowns, doted on by handsome men, cheered by adoring crowds on the red carpet; wealth, fame, as she knows them from the pop culture that is her only mental nourishment. For her mother and for herself, life is an endless round of TV–food–arguments-TV–food-arguments. In their dark and dingy apartment, practically the only illumination is from the TV screen.

Mo'Nique's performance is revelatory on multiple levels, down to the bone of the human condition and certainly up to the highest screen standards. It is bravura work. Sibide's performance is technically masterful but much of her effectiveness comes from her imposing physical presence; this is not meant to detract one iota from her acting skills – it is just a fact. The excellent supporting performances include a pleasing turn from singer Mariah Carey as a down-to-earth social worker with a playful personality; it's an inventive characterization. But the whole cast excels and they should be honored for great ensemble work, especially the young ladies in the special education classroom.

Flaws? The pacing seems to slow down unnecessarily toward the end and Precious's educational progression seems a bit confused and not completely fleshed out, but this is minor stuff. This is a very inspired work of art by someone with a fresh vision. It is not preaching morals or slogans, just revealing truth.
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8/10
Powerfully emotive story filled with hope and optimism
wmjaho25 January 2009
I'm not surprised that Push won both the Grand Jury and Audience Award at Sundance this year. Director Lee Daniels (Shadowboxer) has created a very powerful film that manages to entertain while evoking a broad spectrum of emotions, from anger and heartbreaking pity to optimism, joy and hope.

Clareece "Precious" Jones (Gabby Sidibe) is a fat 16-year-old illiterate black girl that lives in Harlem with her welfare-dependent, abusive mother (Mo'Nique). She has one autistic daughter (who lives with her grandmother) and is pregnant with another child, both from her mother's boyfriend, who is also Clareece's father. Her mother repeatedly tells her how stupid and worthless she is while other kids taunt her for her obesity. She has become hardened and heartless, lacking education and social skills. She spends her time cooking for her mother and fantasizing unrealistically about a glamorous life. She would be easy to dismiss. Based on a novel by Sapphire, this is some pretty bleak stuff.

But good things can happen in this world and Precious is blessed with an indomitable spirit that refuses to accept the negative reinforcement that bombards her. Through her efforts, and despite resistance from her mother, she finds an alternative school. It is staffed by Miss Rains, a caring teacher (Paula Patton) and classmates who, although anything but perfect, possess enough compassion to become supportive friends. It turn out that the world can be a pretty good place.

First-time actress Gabby Sidibe gives a powerful, emotive performance. Equally good is talented actresses Mo'Nique, who is almost frightening as Precious' mother, and Patton as the compassionate teacher. Lenny Kravitz and Mariah Carey also have minor roles, giving the film a little star power.

Daniels conveys a Harlem existence that is profane, hard-edged and brutal, but with rays of humanity and compassion that leave room for hope. It is at once both a message to the poor in spirit not to despair, and to the rest of us make the time and effort to reach out where we can. Push is an inspiring message that will fill you with optimism and joy.

Sundance Moment: When asked about her getting the role, Sidibe said that she had some acting experience--like a non-speaking role in a college production. Pretty funny! She said her friends encouraged her to audition because she "fit the profile." She also said she relied heavily on "Mr. Daniels" for direction. Daniels said there were parts of making the movie that were hard on him emotionally--like directing Precious to eat, or instructing her peers to bully her.
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10/10
Heartbreaking and Riveting, Precious Will Win Your Heart
alexart-14 October 2009
I saw Precious at the New York Film Festival yesterday. As you may know, Precious is the only film to ever win the Audience Award at both the Sundance and Toronto International Film Festivals. The film has been highly hyped since January and I was afraid I would be underwhelmed. Well, I sure wasn't! Precious is a powerhouse piece of cinema that will rip your heart to shreds. The acting is pitch perfect from everybody and the film-making is unusual.

Precious is about Claireece 'Precious' Jones, an overweight girl who has already had a child with Down's Syndrome from when she was raped by her father. Her mother constantly abuses her and she's already pregnant with her second baby. When she gets kicked out of school and is forced to go to an alternative school to help her get her GED, she realizes that there may actually be hope for her.

The acting is easily the most important and best thing during Precious. Newcomer Gabourey Sidibe will absolutely be famous and definitely deserves the Best Actress Oscar. Her performance was so real and searing that you're just forced to sympathize with her. Other cast includes Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, and Mo'Nique who are all unfamiliar to the genre, but still perform very well. Mo'Nique gives a really great performance as the abusive mother Mary and should definitely win an Oscar as well. Mariah Carey's performance is a bit dry, but her character is not very major. Paula Patton, the actress who plays Blu Rain, Precious' teacher, gives a believable and loving performance as well. Also, the girls in Precious' class are all great. I actually was sitting behind them at the screening and got the them to sign my Playbill. They were all very excited.

The crowd seemed to love the movie. At Toronto, people laughed at serious parts, but the New York audience ate it up. People clapped for Precious, cried at the right parts, and even gasped at the screen over some of the violence. The violence is often so abrupt that it feels as if you too could have just been hit over the head with a pan. Everybody was so engaged in watching it even Gabourey Sidibe herself who had already seen it three times. Even she had trouble watching some parts. At the end of the movie, everyone in the audience stood up and gave Lee Daniels and his cast about a ten minute standing ovation. Everybody loved the film. Precious is definitely one of the best movies of the year and will definitely at least be nominated for Best Picture if not win it. It may be a bit bleak, but Precious gives me and everybody else hope. Lee Daniels wrote a quotation at the end of the movie that said "For precious girls everywhere". This is what really put the icing on the cake. Precious is a magnificent and disturbing movie.
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6/10
A Truly Brutal, Emotionally Wrenching Movie
sddavis6326 August 2010
SPOILER: First of all, thank God that this doesn't claim to be "based on" or "inspired by" a true story. That would be too much to take, because this is truly the most brutal movie I have ever seen - brutal not in quality but in content. As Precious deals with her mother's ongoing and relentless abuse (both physical and verbal) you find yourself almost in tears. As she has flashbacks to the sexual abuse she endured at the hands of her father you just need to turn your head away for a while and catch your breath. It's brutal. It doesn't claim to be based on a true story. You hope it's an exaggeration. You wish it doesn't happen. And, somehow, somewhere, deep within you know there are young kids enduring this type of abuse on a daily basis. So, the movie definitely gets an emotional reaction from the viewer, and deserves credit for that. But let's think about the content.

As brutal and emotionally draining as it is, the story is at times lacking. Perhaps the flashbacks and fantasies are a bit too much, so that you're not always sure of the reality of what you're watching. You have to like Gabourey Sidibe's performance as Precious. Her absolutely unfeeling reactions to her mother struck me as the sort of reaction an abused child would have. For an inexperienced newcomer, her performance was great. An Oscar nomination? I'm not sure to be honest. One of the biggest problems I had with her was that I often had trouble understanding what she was saying. Maybe it was the character - Precious being uneducated and abused, so she mumbled a lot as if she really didn't want to be heard. Perhaps there's some reality to that, but it's frustrating from the perspective of watching the movie and wanting to hear the dialogue. I thought the confrontation with her mother in the social worker's office was well done. It seemed the logical climax to the movie as the mother is confronted with the evils that happened to Precious at her hands and at the hands of her boyfriend. I loved the fact that Precious walked away and left her behind. I was also a little confused, though. She walked away with 2 kids - one with Down's Syndrome? As she said herself, she's still only reading at a junior high school level. Sure. "Then high school. Then college." She has dreams. That's great. But she's not living in the "then" - she's living in the "now." How is she going to care for two kids? As the movie ended, I was worried about them.

It really is a brutal, emotionally wrenching movie. It's not a movie I would watch twice. It's full of horrendous abuse and some of the most sustained and foulest language I've ever heard in a movie. It deserves a lot of credit. But it's also not great.
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7/10
Life is hard. Life is short. Life is painful. Life is rich. Life is....Precious.
Matt_Layden15 September 2010
This is a film that might make some people a little uneasy. It deals with family abuse in the form of rape, physical and verbal violence. The one character it follows is Precious, an overweight illiterate teenage girl who is pregnant with her second child from her biological father. She is kicked out of her school because of her pregnancy and is enrolled in another educational institution called each one teach one. She wants to do better things, but doesn't have the will or motivation because of the constant abuse at the hands of her mother. She day dreams about being a big star and getting out of the hellish life she lives.

The film is raw with the material and doesn't really hold any punches. Lee Daniels second feature film shows vast improvement over the messy Shadowboxer starring Cuba good Jr. His grasp of the material and dedication to have the story be told is evident in his attention to translate the novel to screen. Daniels has put together a cast that care about the subject matter and the story as much as he does and is surrounded by the talent that is needed to pull it off.

Gabourey Sidibe is Precious, the troubled teen wanting more out of life. She shines in her first starring role and it's no walk in the park for her. The role demanded talent and Sidibe delivers what is needed. Of course the one who stands out the most is Mo'Nique earning herself a much deserved Oscar for her role as the abusive and sloth ridden mother. Her confrontation with her daughter after the birth of the second child is intense and will have you holding your breath in fear for the safety of the child.

Precious is a film that is driven by a strong story and an emotional cast that cares about the work they are doing. It's a glimmer of hope that keeps the story moving in a world that is hard edged and usually leads nowhere. It's not a relatively long film, but I did find myself checking my watch every now and then and some bits in the film happen without much clarification. Where did that one white boy come from in her Each One Teach One class? In any event, the final product is a good film with a message about hope and Tyler Perry finally has his name attached to something good in his career (Star Trek not included).
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9/10
incredibly powerful film
mnkiser17 January 2009
I just saw this film at Sundance, and it was truly amazing. I confess I did not read the book (I will now), but I suspect that Daniels really took it to the next level. The story of Precious and her world was deeply moving and supremely well acted. I was particularly surprised at my own ability to laugh, along with the story, at the worst humanity can throw at us. After the film, Daniels, the producers, and the entire cast came forward to many standing ovations. Gabby was indeed charming, and I was particularly riveted by Mo'Nique's discussion of how she was able to become Mary, Precious' mother. Daniels fielded many questions from the audience, mostly directed at the task of realizing this story. I hope to see his work again. This is a heavy film, but I highly recommend it.
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1/10
The Most Stereotypical Movie Ever (spoilers ahead)
gator111021 January 2010
First and foremost I want to say that I am not disrespecting the people that organized this film or the actors. They are doing what they gotta do I guess. I do believe some people in this movie have talent, but it's not being expressed.

It seem like black cinema has reached an all time low. This is the most stereotypical movie to come out since "Birth Of A Nation" but yet it's embraced by the black community for one and Hollywood seems to be OK with it. Why? Is it because it represents every stereotype out there about black people. My aunt enjoyed this movie while my father and I were the only ones who realized how offensive this was.

This movie is about a young, fat, extra dark, illiterate, welfare, woman who loves chicken,is getting molested by her father,and has two kids. Is this all black filmmakers can do today? We come off as monolithic because we're always falling into the bag every time. I can watch the news every day and see these representations of black people. And this is suppose to be inspirational? Anyone could of made this movie. The script literally seemed like the whole movie was improvised. If the girl precious drops a crumb on the floor her mother literally goes into 100% ghetto mode. "You ain't sh*t you fat b****. That's why nobody wants your fat, black a**.You fat ugly b**** you ain't never gonna be nothing in life". I wish I was exaggerating but I'm not. We've got to get beyond promoting ignorance. And it wouldn't be as bad if we saw a balance in black cinema, but this is all we're seeing.

But on the other hand the black audience embraced it. But when a positive movie like "The Great Debaters" or "The Miracle at St. Anna" come out we don't support it. Let's wake up and see a wider view of what black people are capable of and stop supporting everything that's a stereotype.
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8/10
Powerhouse Performances Tower Over a Harrowing Yet Enthralling Tale of Redemption
EUyeshima5 December 2009
To my surprise, this soul-baring 2009 drama is neither as painful nor depressing as the subject matter would imply. In fact, director Lee Daniels' treatment alternates so fluently between gritty realism, social uplift, and fanciful episodes of fantasy that the end result is as much enthralling as it is emotionally draining. First-time screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher does a solid job adapting the 1996 source novel by Sapphire, "Push", but the strength and honesty of the cast is what sears in the memory. Daniels could have been otherwise charged with stunt casting had he not drawn out such powerhouse work from the out-of-left-field likes of comedienne Mo'Nique and pop diva Mariah Carey. Granted Daniels in his second directorial effort is not the most subtle of filmmakers (his first film was the strangely exotic "Shadowboxer"), but he does bring a level of florid passion that the subject desperately needs to alleviate the unrelenting bleakness of the title character's existence.

Set in Harlem in 1987, the story centers on sixteen-year-old Claireece "Precious" Jones, a morbidly obese girl so void of self-worth that she refers to herself without irony as "ugly black grease to be washed from the street". Nearly illiterate, she finds herself pregnant for the second time by her father, and the school principal arranges to enroll Precious at an "alternative" institution. She recognizes this as an opportunity to better herself, but her mother Mary discourages it and forces Precious to apply for welfare. The unenviable mother-daughter relationship is the crux of the film, and it is here the film gives an unblinking account of monstrous physical and psychological abuse that explains the sharp contrast between Precious' inner and outer lives. On the outside, she is a forlorn yet formidable presence with a face so full that she can't express emotion without a great deal of effort. On the inside, she is loved and admired unconditionally. The two slowly come together at Precious' new school where she finds acceptance and redemption through a dedicated teacher (improbably named Blu Rain), who must get through to a classroom full of girls all disadvantaged in their own ways.

The birth of Precious' son, along with the bonding she feels at school, signals a harrowing showdown between mother and daughter and ultimately a confrontation between Mary and Mrs. Weiss, the no-nonsense social worker who seeks the truth behind Precious' home life. In the title role, Gabourey Sidibe is ideally cast given the film's semi-documentary approach. An untrained actress, she is able to elicit empathy by giving herself completely to the inchoate character, and when Precious breaks down from the weight of yet another seemingly insurmountable development, Sidibe gives the scene a halting honesty. Paula Patton ("Swing Vote") gets to play the Sidney Poitier role of the elegantly transformative teacher as Ms. Rain, but she gives the too-good-to-be-true character a palpable sense of passion. As Mrs. Weiss, a role originally slated for Helen Mirren (who co-starred in Daniels' "Shadowboxer"), Mariah Carey, bereft of her glistening make-up and diva mannerisms, brings an audacious toughness to her smallish but pivotal role.

However, it is Mo'Nique ("Phat Girlz") that gives the film's most shattering performance. I don't know what emotional reservoir she is tapping into, but she nails Mary with a fury so startling and realistic that it's impossible to trivialize the source of her villainy. She never compromises the hardness in her character, and her self-justifying monologue is an impressive piece of work. There is also solid work from a couple of other unusually cast performers, comedienne Sherri Shepherd (of the morning TV talkfest "The View") as a tough school administrator aptly named Cornrows and Lenny Kravitz as a sympathetic male nurse, and a scene-stealing turn from Xosha Roquemore as the ebullient Joann ("My favorite color is florescent beige"). Not all of Daniels' left-turn devices work, for instance, using Sophia Loren's "Two Women" as the basis of one of Precious' fantasies seems contrived given only a die-hard cineaste would understand the connection. Regardless, it's no wonder that Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry put their stamp of approval on the film as executive producers since Precious ultimately finds a personal triumph despite the hard life has dealt her.
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9/10
Not Paris Hilton's Dog At All
jayfloyd6 November 2009
This is a truly moving, patiently directed American movie the likes of which we rarely get treated to anymore. The word 'Precious' certainly does take on it's original meaning after seeing this story unfold.

Just when I think 'the movies' have lost their last bit of integrity, a movie like this comes along as though to say 'don't worry, it's still an art form'.

As for Mo'Nique... well... I wonder what she'll say in her acceptance speeches? Brava, brava, brava.

And Mariah's performance is outstanding and deeply surprising as well.

I can't recommend this film highly enough.
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1/10
A boring and self-obsessed tale made entirely to enforce guilt-money
chrishaydon_6330 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
'Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire' is a film typical of this time of year; award season.

Unfortunately, that's the only reason Lee Daniels made this picture; to scoop sympathetic awards from the Oscar and Golden Globe panels.

'Precious' is a shallow, cold-hearted film that basically a two-hour advert for child abuse, it's a sick way to guilt-trip Western audiences into donating money to charities and other money-squeezing organizations.

They even had the cheek to get Oprah Winfrey to present the film which tells the audience only one thing; we want your money.

It's a disgusting picture that deserves no awards and no praise. It's utter self-obsessed rubbish that made me angry to watch, it makes the audience feel responsible for Precious' appalling lifestyle.

Admittedly, it's very well performed, Mo'Nique is quite extraordinary but she doesn't deserve the Oscar, that should go to Anna Kendrick for 'Up in the Air', but sadly that won't happen.

And what's up all this stuff about it being uplifting and heart-warming? Have you actually watched the film? She's obese, illiterate, a victim of incest rape, pregnant, beaten, and she gets AIDS? Yeah, mega uplifting. It's hardly believable too.

All in all, I really don't get why people are raving this film so much, it's long-winded, dire, depressing and frustrating.

The only reason I've given it 2 stars is because of the performances.

Just diabolical.
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2/10
Predictable and Painful to Sit Though.
aovchinn8 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The only reason I can see that this movie gets the attention that it does is the amazing acting and the pure shock value of poor inner city life. Story wise though Precious seems to be one long cliché. It's great to examine poor inner city life, but it can be done better than this.

Take for example how the parents are painted as pure evil, while poor Precious is angelic, how can we not forgive her for not knowing what's appropriate? Teachers, social workers and so on are also inexplicably perfect as well as thin and/or white. Why do we have to have to have evil black archetypes and purely selfless saviors? It's unrealistic and a bit racist.

Things just go from bad to worse to even worse, well that's quite sad but you can't cry the whole time you're watching this thing, so what's the point? Take away that and it's yet another Hollywood cliché of the unappreciated student and/or class that is reached by a special teacher. Where have we NOT seen that one before?

OK the girl is fat, an important detail . OK her parents are horrible to her, every children's movie or fairy tale starts that way. She leads a rich fantasy life to escape daily trauma, again with the children's film parodies? OK she finally finds someone that understands and helps her fulfill her true potential despite parental influence. What is this a grimmer version of Roald Dahl's Matilda? A plot line that is meant for an 8 year old? I just don't get it.

Skip this "Little Matchstick Girl" meets "Sister Act 2" tearjerker and go see a movie that tells a unique story.
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10/10
Precious Movie Review
Hint52325 October 2009
I won't try to deny my slight bias while I was watching this movie. To be in a theater among many movie enthusiasts, and most importantly the director of the film (Lee Daniels) and the author of the novel (Sapphire) will most certainly have an effect on your movie going experience. But not enough of a bias to effect whether or not the film is any good.

Precious is the name of the protagonist, (played by Gabourey 'Gabby' Sidibe), a teenage girl who is one of the most harsh conditions upon our first meeting with her. She's pregnant for the second time to her own father's child, her mother (Monique) is an unstable and dangerously abusive woman, and she is unable to read and write. This is a terrible situation to be in, but Precious manages to live through it through her dreams, blocking out harsh memories with hopes of becoming a fashion model or a movie star. The story kicks off when Precious is invited to a special learning school, where the classroom is small and where she will be able to learn in a better environment.

From this description of the plot, the film sounds tried. I was concerned for a brief moment while watching that this would be another "Stand and Deliver" or "Freedom Writers". We've all heard and seen these "problem stories" of inter-city kids who go to the top. For one, although the film briefly uses these classroom dynamic scenes, enough of the film is so unrelated we realize that comparing this film to those isn't fair. Precious is about a girl, not about a student or a classroom.

Let me tell you up front: Precious isn't a problem movie (the kind of movie where things just get worse and worse, and then finally some solution is made). Despite how many obstacles are thrown at Precious, and believe me a whole lot are, the film is still entirely about who Precious is, and mostly, how she can raise her head high and keep going in all these loathsome situations. Director Lee Daniels (here I go with my bias of seeing it with the director) actually encouraged the audience to laugh, because there are a lot of humorous scenes, intertwined with some incredibly jarring ones. Unlike "Requiem for a Dream", which is such a depressing movie you are left with a bad taste in your mouth, Precious is actually a very positive film about how to stand through these trials of life. You will see scenes in this film that will irk you, but enough of the film is good-spirited and, dare I say, light, that leaving the film you will feel good about yourself, and with a positive outlook on your own life. It also makes one grateful for the fortunate situations we're all in, because I don't think anyone has it rougher than Precious in this film.

This isn't a Slumdog Millionaire rags-to-riches story. Because the film only deals with about a year of her life, we don't see Precious win the million dollars or get into college. Any of that would just be cheesy. Instead, we see her trying to learn to write, being a single parent, and getting out of potentially dangerous situations. It adds for a fuller and richer film that feels more heartfelt.

The directing is not some of the best ever, but it is of a high enough caliber that Lee Daniels deserves some praise this awards season. I think he will not have too much trouble getting a nomination. As for a win, I am not so sure (especially with my personal pick Kathryn Bigelow). My only complaint is some jerky hand-held for one or two scenes, but that's not enough to defer from the great things he does. The acting and the screenplay of this film are exactly the type of Oscar-winning pieces you can name. Monique as an abusive mother is downright scary for a long time, but soon she actually makes us empathetic toward such a monster. I have no doubt in her chances of getting a nomination, and as of now she is my pick for the win. As for Gabby Sidibe: she's very good, but it all depends on who the competition is.

The screenplay is brilliant, never feeling slow or rushed. The pacing of this film is steady enough that we're engrossed the entire time. Watch out for smaller roles by Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz, both of whom appear briefly (without any make-up or nice clothing). So far, Precious is sweeping the festivals and is looking like it's on a road to Oscar glory, and well deserved. The film opens in NY and LA on November 6th, and will be in theaters everywhere by November 20th. Be sure to make a point of seeing this film.

My Rating: 10/10
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1/10
Get ready to cry
charlies1231 February 2010
I have been avoiding this movie because I just don't usually like having my emotions manipulated. However, there came a point when I had watched everything else available, so I gave it a shot. I do not want to spoil the movie, so I will tread lightly here.

The whole movie, as expected, seems contrived to make you cry. They take a pitiful character, make terrible, terrible things happen to her, and then use that to explain away her bad behavior. Typical.

With all the heavy hitters involved in production, mixed with the cameos, and the social commentary, taking into consideration the time of year that it was released, I would say it was purposed to win awards.

In the end, as I already mentioned, is takes overly dramatic circumstances and throws them at you, and forces you to cry. The social commentary is awful. It pretty much says: excuse the awful acts committed by inner-city youths, they are a product of their environment. I gave it a one because I think we need to accept responsibility for our actions.
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1/10
i want an Oscar as well
EchoMaRinE18 March 2010
I was very curious about this movie since it was praised a lot. I was expecting a performance that is so great and a story that is so emotional. May be I expected too much or my emotions are not strong enough to understand this movie but I didn't find it good. Actually, I found it bad to be more precise. There was certainly nothing special about the acting, the story is boring and disturbing, the message is totally unclear and directing is just OK. If I had seen this on TV, I would change the channel in two minutes but I watched it till the end to see whether something will happen. It ended as it started, pointless and boring. I was really surprised by the Oscar awards this year. I had seen all the movies expect this one but this is even worse than the rest of the garbage. Save yourself, don't watch it. If you are forced to watch it, may the patience be with you.
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5/10
"Precious" doesn't make me feel too Precious
jbowman-166 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
First off, for those who haven't seen or plan on seeing the film, Precious, this post may be a spoiler for you. With that said, if you want to see a film about a morbidly obese 16 year old black girl, who is already a mother of a down syndrome child, with another on the way, with both fathered by her own father, and is beaten and verbally abused by her welfare cheating mother, and ultimately finds out that she and her newborn child have AIDS, please go see Precious.

I stated this to frame the disgust and anger that I felt after I viewed this film. I did not come out of the movie theater feeling "Hopeful" as many critics have written in their reviews. I saw this film, not as a film critic, but as a person of African decent who is tired of seeing Black people as a segment of society to be pitied and perpetually looked down upon. Don't get me wrong, the acting was tremendous by the primary and supporting cast, and the story was well put together. But for me, I see this film as a reiteration of the vile images that have been glorified within our mainstream music, television, and films that continue to degrade American society.

The triumph of this film comes when the lead character, Precious fights back against her abusive mother and pushes to gain control over her life and her children. Sadly to say, that is the highest the film goes in terms of a positive outlook on the life of Precious. She still remains a morbidly obese 16 year old black girl, who still must attain her GED, while taking care of a child with down syndrome and one with AIDS, along with having AIDS herself. Where is the bright spot in this equation? What does this girl have to look forward to in her life? And how is she going to make it?

I know that some people reading this may be angry at my pessimistic view. But since I have lived and worked in and around New York City for over 9 years, I've seen far too many Precious Jones. I've seen the morbidly obese teenagers walking around with strollers without the ability to speak with good diction. I know that in New York City, you are lucky to have 50% of the African Americans and Latinos graduate high school within 4 years. These numbers aren't much better in other cities and metropolitan areas around the US either.

African Americans are considered the poorest people in the richest nation of the world. African Americans are considered the most illiterate in the wealthiest country of the world. African Americans are the most unemployed in the United States. And there are more African Americans in prison, than any other race or ethnicity in this country. African Americans are viewed, stereotypically as being on welfare, lazy, and criminal. Images of African Americans as drug dealers, gang bangers, and having a multitude of children with different parents out of wedlock, are the normal representation within mainstream media.

Why aren't the majority of the images portrayed of Whites or Asians, of the most violent and derelict of them? Why are Whites automatically viewed as the leaders or heroes? Why are Asians automatically viewed as the most intelligent or hard working? Such stereotypes make it easier for Whites or Asians to navigate within society, whether it be through the job market, education, or simply walking down the street. When most media perceptions of a people are positive, many individuals have a positive perception that particular group of people. This can also be said for the self- perceptions of that ethnic or racial group. Seeing positive images of your own people allow you to to also feel good about yourself.

In the late 1980's and early 90's, the Cosby Show, and the spin off, A different World were a part of a pervasive and influential part of mainstream media that promoted African American life in a positive direction. Having been a teenager during this time period, I can say from experience that these images had a progressively positive effect on my personal outlook on life. To see Black man as a doctor and Black woman as a lawyer, together as husband and wife on television, changed perceptions of what Black people were supposed to be. And to have a show showing Black people successfully matriculating through college was another milestone for advancement. These, along with the hip hop of the time promoting education, self reliance, and pride in being of African decent pushed the expectation of being great.

I want to see optimism and true hope represented again within mainstream entertainment. I don't want to see the glorification of poverty, obesity, violence, and lack of responsibility. I want to see the successes emulated on TV and in the films that have surrounded me throughout my adulthood. I want to see the stories of my African American high school friends, who have become doctors and lawyers. The stories of my African American college friends who are business owners, executives, professors, architects, doctors, artists and so much more. To know African Americans who have come out of poverty, defied racism, and succeeded without becoming today's stereotypes. These are the stories of HOPE that need to be seen and felt! We all must take the responsibility to demand and create works that uplift and progress the existence of a people that have been portrayed at the bottom for far too long! We cannot bear anymore stories about Precious. Our society cannot survive anymore degradation.
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1/10
I found Precious to be stereotypical and actually racist! And it's highly OVERRATED as well!
MovieFanGuyy9 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
You would think that the stereotypical African American welfare story has been done to bits, but, alas, Oprah Winfrey, and one of the producers of Monster's Ball have struck again.

Precious, which is based on a controversial fictional 1996 book called Push, regards a poor, highly illiterate teenage mother living in Harlem, combating poverty, drug addicted father, who has impregnated her twice, and a highly abusive mother, who abuses her both physically, and mentally for "stealing her man" I found the stereotypes in this film to be highly offensive, and I think that this film will reinforce what most Americans feel about poor African Americans, even after our historical election last fall of the first African American president in history.

My objection to this film once again lies with the stereotypical African American living in the ghetto. While it's admirable that the lead character is facing unsurmountable odds, it's also highly offensive to re-enforce negative stereotypes.

All in all, I found this film to be overrated, offensive, and at times slow. This was like watching a Lifetime movie of the week mixed with harsh language and child abuse thrown in. I feel this movie is simply racist and stereotypical.
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1/10
2 hours of my life I can't get back
lightsout561 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I would list this movie in my bottom 5 movies of all time! It needed to be sub-titled because at least 50% of her dialog was totally mumbled! None of us could understand hardly anything she said. Horrible acting! The story was poorly written and absolutely horrible. Did we really need to see the visual of this girl getting raped by her own Father? They couldn't just refer to it and leave some of that out? Really? What kind of sick human being puts out a movie like this? It's absolutely shocking that the Hollywood elite actually likes this film. I just can't believe Oprah would put her name on something this bad. This was an absolutely TERRIBLE FILM! Rating: F-
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1/10
Oprah recommends a boring book= It's a success. Oprah recommends a boring movie= ditto.
skidwah18 November 2010
When Gollem died for his "precious" by falling into the fire he was dying for a scam. This Precious is a scam too, money and fame thrown at this movie and it still looks like it was made by my 12yr old with her $100 camera. The plot looks like something my 9yr old made by turning pages of a encyclopaedia and coming up with every bad thing that can happen to a child and adult and making a movie. Oprah loves a good child abuse movie and this one must remind her of her very own show pony the colour purple. Yeah we all know Oprah was abused and so was I- the difference between us is that I'm living in the real world now and I'm not obese.
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1/10
Warning
tstq77721 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I am writing this review for one reason only. This is to warn you....if you feel you must watch this movie....don't do it with young children in the room. I felt like I needed a shower after watching this, and I only got through probably a quarter of it. Pretty awful stuff happens in this world and sometimes you have to portray this in a movie to give it that "living it" feeling; however, this movie was too "real" for me. I love a movie with a happy ending and good conquers evil, etc...but if I have to get there by watching a father rape his daughter...literally.....and a mother beat her daughter .....literally...over the head with a frying pan... No thank you!!!!
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9/10
A vicious cautionary tale. Deeply depressing but oh so realistic
Just seeing the trailer for this movie, I was blown away by the striking realism of lead actress Gabourey Sidibe's performance. The entire trailer radiated PAIN. I thought this movie was going to be heavy, dramatic, and depressing - but it took it all so much further than I could have expected.

First of all, I would recommend this movie to just about anyone - but only if you can handle and take something from movies that are utterly disturbing in their depiction of a realistic CRAP LIFE. This is one of those movies that just does not let up. We've seen this a lot with dark comedies this decade - from directors like the Coen Brothers, but through those movies we are mostly laughing at the unfortunate events - this time around, we wish we could help but for people in these kind of dark holes, there is nothing we can do to help without damaging ourselves in our attempt to be saint-like.

Mo'Nique shows a new side of herself in her performance as the most disgustingly terrible mother you'd never want as your own. I hope Mo'Nique gets offered more serious roles in dramatic movies after this because god damn she deserves it. She was THE WORST PERSON... EVER!!!! I HATE HER!!!!!!!!!!!!! How dare you treat PRECIOUS LIKE THAT!!!! WE HATE YOU!!!!

I've never seen PIGS FEET used so effectively in a movie! So disgusting!!!

There are no weak cast members - everyone portrays an entertaining, realistic, and believable character in this 80's NYC setting. Even Mariah Carey shows up as the welfare counseler and for once she puts on a worthy performance. Alternative school teacher Ms. Blu Rain (what an awesome name) - also ends up being a very memorable and lovable character, seen almost as the angelic being in the end.

While I was thoroughly entertained throughout, I did feel like there were certain segments that were a little dragged out. Lots of shots of Precious walking around in slow motion for basically no reason. Whatever. I enjoy segments like this personally so it didn't bother me. Nice to create places to squeeze good music into your film. This was perhaps the only flaw of the film in general though. The movie was lengthy because of the drawn out scenes but it was a worthy ride.

This one's definitely gonna be making my top 10 list this year. A surprise gem out of nowhere.

I've never even thought about giant black girls raised into terrible life situations wishing they were a skinny blonde white woman. Now I know there's got to be a lot of them out there... Aside from that, mothers like hers belong in prison or dead. PRECIOUS is just a reminder... a warning... an effective cautionary tale... PRECIOUS deserves better. Precious deserves on Oscar.
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1/10
What a waste of "Precious" time !
mowaineh7 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Thank God i have watched this film for free, though i have not wast a single penny on it.

To be honest, i expected a bad movie, but i have expected something like that, though i had the idea that i am going to see something, more or less, similar to Alice Walker's works, but to be honest i haven't expected something 100 times worst than it.

I don't know what was going on the minds of writer or the director of the movie, but , i don't that the fact of having a girl who is not 17 yet, and who has a 2 babies from her father, with a lesbian teacher can make an emotive movie, on the contrary i think it makes a disgusting movie, with exaggerated facts about sadness.

to end , i think that if one wanted to see a bit of a real tragedy he has to stop seeing tragedy this way !
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1/10
Precious is not so Precious after all
pfehrman-116 March 2010
This is a movie that is about being vulgar, hateful, and worthless. It in no way is an inspiration to anyone. There are people out there that live this way, but why promote it as a way of life? There needs to be more family friendly movies instead of this kind of garbage that actually perpetuates damaged families and their lack of importance to each other. Some families are broken as shown in this movie, but unfortunately, those same families will walk away from watching this movie feeling vindicated in living this lifestyle rather than seeing this as an embarrassment to their lifestyle. I have known people like this in my lifetime, and they would completely take this as, "...yep, this is my life and there's nothing wrong with it; they even made a movie about it." I HATED this movie. I want to bring good values to my family and friends. I don't want to validate this stuff. I don't want to ignore it and pretend that it doesn't exist, but it's better to help people who are like this than to make a glorified movie about it.
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2/10
Waste of time!
yvv-15 March 2010
This movie just preys on stereotypes and manipulates on people's kind feelings. Well, every movie is supposed to do the same. But when you are watching a great movie it deceives you and makes you forget it's just a movie. There wasn't a single moment like this in "Precious" despite all its pseudo-documentary style, slow pace, indistinct and rude dialogues, lack of background music, physically disgusting actors. And then I thought ,"It's a not a movie! It's one of them TV Shows about who was the father of a child with DNA results in the end. I didn't know at the time that Oprah Winfrey had something to do with producing. It says it all. Good acting? Give me a break! The girl's mother was the only who did any acting. All the other characters never had a chance. Horrible script, horrible directing and a total waste of time.
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