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Directed by Lee Daniels
Produced in 2009
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - American film
This ultimately life-affirming tale of an abused African-American teenager in 1980s Harlem has amazing performances from Gabourey Sidibe and an Oscar-winning Mo'Nique.
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.
Milo Wakelin on 28th January 2010
Author of 103 reviews
A life-affirming tale of an abused African-American teenager's struggle to change her life in 1980s Harlem. 16-year-old Clareece 'Precious' Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) has been abused from an early age by her now absent father, and is pregnant with his second child. With a venomous mother Mary (Mo'Nique) who treats her like a servant and her school life blighted by her illiteracy, Precious struggles to cope with her seemingly hopeless life. But the offer of a place in an alternative school and the nurturing of literacy teacher Ms. Rain soon begin to transform the teenager, offering her a path to a brighter future. Mo'Nique won the Best Supporting Actress awards at both the 2010 BAFTAs and the Academy Awards for her portrayal of Mary.
Length: 106 mins
Cat No: ICON10202
Format: DVD Colour
- Interviews: A Conversation with Lee Daniels and Sapphire
- Documentaries: 'A Precious Ensemble', 'From Push to Precious', 'Oprah and Tyler: A Project of Passion'
- Lee, Paula and Gabby's Screen Test.