Directed by: Lee Daniels
Countries & Regions: United States
Region: Region 2
Released: 24 May 2010
Cat No: ICON10202
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A gritty, life-affirming tale of an abused African-American teenager’s struggle to change her life in 1980s Harlem. 16-year-old Clareece... Read More
A sleeper hit at Sundance and a multi-award winner at Cannes, Precious stunned critics and audiences alike with its heartbreaking story of a morbidly obese teen struggling with pregnancy, illiteracy, and a violently abusive mother.
Based on the bestselling 1996 novel Push, Precious eschews the typical rags-to-riches, girl-out-of-the-ghetto American fantasy in place of an emotional journey that is darker and more complex. There are no easy answers to our heroine's predicament, but the film's depiction of a quiet young woman slowly but determinedly finding her own voice is uplifting and inspirational without ever being manipulative.
In late 80s Harlem, 16 year-old Claireece Precious Jones (newcomer Gabourey Sidibe) lives with her mother, Mary (a terrifying performance by comedienne Mo'Nique). After years of abuse Precious is carrying her second child by her own father, now absent and unseen; her first son, who has Down's syndrome, is cared for by her grandmother. Demeaned by her mother and mocked by her classmates, Precious retreats ever inwards into fantasies where she sees herself as a pretty, slim white girl.
Excluded from mainstream school, Precious is sent to an alternative program which will tackle her near-illiteracy. Her tutor, Ms. Blu Rain (Paula Patton) asks her to keep a journal which Precious reads aloud, and it is through this device that we see the young woman's ability to express herself develop over time.
Directed by Lee Daniels - who produced Monster's Ball (2001) and The Woodsman (2004) - the film's production values defies its reported $10 million budget and 5-week shoot, whilst its screenplay and cast have garnered rave reviews at every turn. Sidibe's performance does not confine itself to the mere physicality of the role; beneath Precious's layers of flesh and unhappiness she reveals the character's stubborn brilliance. It's an affecting debut.
Mo'Nique's depiction of Precious's mother is astonishingly powerful; a portrait of bitterness and self-loathing that reaches almost Shakespearean levels of tragedy, but never descends into parody. A lesser film would have made her the easy villain of the piece, but Precious is a story which constantly challenges its audience to look beneath the surface.