FilmNovember 12, 2009 at 12:12 am

Absolutely Precious

Nothing about Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire caters to the faint-of-heart, not the gutsy acting or the manic camerawork or the shocking content. Nothing.

This grit is the only way to tell a story that is anything but sugarcoated. By age 16, Clareece ‘Precious’ Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) is morbidly obese, failing out of school and pregnant with her own father’s child for the second time. Her mother, Mary (Mo’Nique), barks orders from her armchair and abuses Precious emotionally, physically and sexually. By the time she arrives at Each One, Teach One, an alternative high school, she has little desire to learn or even to live. Under the guidance of her new teacher Ms. Rain (Paula Patton) Precious begins to understand her limitless capabilities.

What might sound like a typical tale of rising out of late ‘80s Harlem morphs into something else entirely under director Lee Daniels’s astute eye. He blends the horrors of Precious’s home-life with glitzy fantasy sequences and genuine humor courtesy of her classmates.

At its core, though, this is an actors’ piece, and while the supporting cast of Patton, Lenny Kravitz and a de-glammed and surprisingly believable Mariah Carey is strong, Mo’Nique and Sidibe steal the show. Known for her comic roles, Mo’Nique morphs into a virtually unrecognizable monster in a role that may take her to the Oscar podium. Sidibe, on the other hand, takes her character in a completely different direction, subtly infusing curiosity and hope into a seemingly destroyed young woman, a revelation that is truly precious.

Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

Directed by: Lee Daniels
Starring: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique
Rated R, 110 min.

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