- Running time:
- 109 minutes
- Gabourey Sidibe -
- Claireece ``Precious'' Jones
- Mo'Nique -
- Paula Patton -
- Ms. Rain
- Lenny Kravitz -
- Nurse John
- Mariah Carey -
- Ms. Weiss
Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe in a stunning screen debut) is 16, over 300 pounds, still in junior high and pregnant with her second child thanks to a father who repeatedly raped her since she was a small child. She now lives alone with her mother, Mary (Mo’Nique, there are no words to describe her brilliance), a cruel and controlling monster who blames Precious for all her problems. After she’s kicked out of public school, Precious enrolls in an alternative class where she meets the encouraging Ms. Rain (Paula Patton, perfection) and begins to find her voice.
The buzz: For such a little movie, “Precious” has generated an awfully big response. It would be understandable to not expect much from director Lee Daniels (whose debut, “Shadowboxer,” was roundly ignored despite starring Oscar winners Helen Mirren and Cuba Gooding Jr.) and a seemingly oddball cast that includes Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz and “The View” co-host Sherri Shepherd. But the days of underestimating “Precious” are over. The film steamrolled through film festivals all year long—winning major audience awards at Sundance, Toronto and Chicago, and generating immense Oscar buzz in all the high profile categories. Its final test is to convince paying moviegoers that they want to buy a ticket to watch a painful story of abuse and survival. Challenging? Sure. Worth it? Hell yes.
The verdict: “Precious” is a force of nature. You don’t simply watch the movie, you experience it—in all its fury, hope, bitterness, grace, horror and redemption. Yes, it’s dark and not always easy, but Daniels approaches the potentially alienating material in an unpredictable fashion that’s varied and layered. This is no simple sob story or pat tale of overcoming obstacles, it’s a film of generous humanity with deft humor and clever subversions of You Can Do It clichés. Everything we see comes from Precious, we’re hardwired to her mind—through voiceover, fantasy sequences, and day-to-day life—in a way that makes the character blossom as a full, specific person. There’s nothing especially remarkable about her life—she’s not going to make a grand scientific discovery, create some artistic masterpiece, become a powerful politician—and yet she deserves this glorious showcase of a film. The ensemble cast, as brilliant as it is unlikely, is beyond compare. There’s not a performance that’s less than flawless. The same goes for Daniels’ bold artistry in assembling the pieces for an emotionally shattering tale. Can you overhype a movie this good? Anything’s possible. But I’ve seen “Precious” twice now, and I’m still in awe. You must see it. It’s the movie of the year.
Did you know? Daniels’ had to find a last minute replacement for his “Shadowboxer” star Mirren when she became unavailable to play the role of social worker who gets Precious to open up about her life. So he went to the next logical choice, Mariah Carey. Her breakthrough performance is just one of the movie’s many believe-it-when-you-see-it selling points.
Movie theaters and showtimes for Precious: Based on the Novel ``Push'' by Sapphire in Brevard.
No Showtimes available
Catch up on recent film reviews you might have missed the first time around.