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167 of 178 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars truly superlative acting and a thought-provoking topic
Perhaps "thought provoking" isn't the right phrase to use. This movie will whip you about and leave you breathless, most especially if you've never really considered the plight of children/people like Precious.

I have been teaching adult students for a little over ten years now, and I have had many women whose backgrounds were similar to Precious' background,...
Published on November 24, 2009 by Gabriela Perez

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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly the "feel good film" of the year
With the many nominations and awards Precious is likely to receive this year, I'm fairly confident "feel-good movie of the year" won't be one of them. This film pulls no punches, and given the path it could have taken in trying to gloss up bleak and violent subject matter into a more thrilling and stylized type drama (see Slumdog Millionaire), I commend this movie for...
Published on December 6, 2009 by J. Ryan


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167 of 178 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars truly superlative acting and a thought-provoking topic, November 24, 2009
Perhaps "thought provoking" isn't the right phrase to use. This movie will whip you about and leave you breathless, most especially if you've never really considered the plight of children/people like Precious.

I have been teaching adult students for a little over ten years now, and I have had many women whose backgrounds were similar to Precious' background, so the subject matter wasn't new to me. I expected to be moved, but I didn't expect to have to struggle to stop crying after the movie was over.

The movie is about a teenager named Precious (a truly ironic name, as she is told and shown repeatedly that she is NOT precious to anyone in her immediate circle) and the horrific circumstances of her life at the age of 16. She is pregnant with her second child, the product of incest (her "father" rapes her, a fact which her mother chooses instead to see as Precious threatening her by taking away her man and giving him more babies than he ever allowed the mom to have), and she is barely holding together some semblance of a normal life by keeping her true circumstances from everyone around her.

When her school principal becomes aware of her pregnancy, she decides to send Precious to an alternative school, and for the first time, the teenager has an opportunity to see her own potential and to have that potential respected by others. It's a truly life-altering opportunity, and Precious takes it.

What's really amazing in this film is the excellence of the acting. You've likely heard time and time again how Mariah Carey doesn't wear makeup and looks haggard and old, and you've probably heard about Monique's superb turn as Precious' mother. What can't be conveyed without you actually watching the movie is what all that means. To me, it meant witnessing moments when an actor found ways to manipulate his/her body language and expressions to create a character in one movement. Precious, for example, is both a burdened, pitiful human being whose scrunched-up face and blank expression tell the audience that she is very nearly spiritually dead. Then, in an instant, she begins to daydream, and her body, her expression, her entire carriage is transformed. She radiates happiness and sensuality, a sense of being totally alive and joy-filled. It's more than the clothing and makeup. It's everything that shows up on her face, in the way she moves, in the lifting of her brow so that she no longer looks closed off to life. Incredible.

Monique is also excellent, from the bland expression of a couch potato who is frozen before the tube to the rage of a woman who feels betrayed by the very daughter she has betrayed so often. Awesome. There is a scene where she is trying to convince someone that she loves Precious, and she earnestly tries to prove that she has strongly positive and loving memories of her daughter, only to find that she can't even get the dates in the memory right, that she can't get something as important as a milestone date right. The expression on her face as she realizes both the depths of her own abandonment of her daughter and the fact that others can see through her I'm-a-great-mom facade--excellent.

There are many uncomfortable moments in this movie, moments that made my fellow audience members laugh but which truly were heartbreaking. In the midst of horrible abuse, a tiny glimmer of something funny--so tough to take, but also evidence of how life is rarely simply one thing or another.

Precious' life will blow you away if you've never met or known anyone like her. It will sadden you, and hopefully it will enrage you enough to do more for people like her. I know that it made me think about the strong women I've taught who pulled themselves out of situations like the one depicted in the movie, and it made me more determined to really get to know my students so that someone like Precious will not slip through the cracks when I can possibly help.

See this movie because the acting is so superb. Remember it because its imagery is powerful and real. And hopefully, never forget that there are many, many women and children out there who have had lives like Precious'.
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerhouse Performances Tower Over a Harrowing Yet Enthralling Tale of Redemption, December 5, 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) who 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 hand life has dealt her.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and real, November 8, 2009
By 
Maureen Clement "maurclem" (Arouca, Trinidad & Tobago) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This movie shows the reality of lives that are affected by incest and where choice seems a fairy tale. Both of Precious' parents are locked in a life of immorality and illegality and have no way out. Precious too seems headed down that road but for the intervention of her principal that moves her to an alternative school where she can get individual attention and where her past does not have to swallow her. Much abusive language but the effect puts the viewer into Precious' life so that you too can experience the threats and put downs. Not for the faint hearted but more films like this are needed to awake the world to the effects of incest and ridicule. First class acting throughout. A must see really! It is ironic that all of the people I know named Precious have had lives that attempted to stunt their development. What's in a name?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Movie but feels unfinished., November 26, 2009
By 
Demario Moore (Memphis,Tennessee USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Precious takes you on an emotional journey that you will not likely forget. There are some remarkable performances but the only one that stands out is Monique's character. She plays an abusive mother that knowingly let her daughter be molested. She actually blames Precious for her man leaving. She is so full of self hatred and anger it's hard to see how Precious has survived this long. The young lady playing Precious does a great job of portraying how broken Precious is. Precious's imagination is the only thing that gives her a break from all the abuse. I can't imagine anyone else playing the role of Precious. Mariah Carey has a small part in this movie. Her acting skills have improved but wow she looks really old without makeup. Some people will go to see this thinking that it's one of those inspirational movies. This is not one of those movies where at the end something positive happens and things start to look up for the main character. Things look even worse for Precious at the end of this film. Please keep an open mind. I actually wanted to give this movie 5 stars but it feels unfinished. You feel a little cheated at the end of the movie because nothing is resolved. However, Precious is easily one of the most captivating films i've seen in awhile. Not only is this one a Must See, you have to buy this one. It will be a welcomed edition to my dvd collection. HOLLA
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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly the "feel good film" of the year, December 6, 2009
With the many nominations and awards Precious is likely to receive this year, I'm fairly confident "feel-good movie of the year" won't be one of them. This film pulls no punches, and given the path it could have taken in trying to gloss up bleak and violent subject matter into a more thrilling and stylized type drama (see Slumdog Millionaire), I commend this movie for sticking to its guns.

The driving force behind this movie is the unyielding performance of Mo'Nique, who plays Precious's verbally and physically abusive mother, Mary. I would be very surprised not to see her name in the Best Supporting Actress ballot this year. Gabourey Sidibe, in the role of Precious, also delivers a tender and heartbreaking performance as an obese, illiterate 16-year old who has suffered from a lifetime of brutality and neglect. Even Mariah Carey (yes, that Mariah Carey) does a very good job in her small role as a sympathetic yet hard-nosed social worker trying to get Precious to finally open up about her violent and trauma filled home life.

It's some of the little things in this film that really make it work. For instance, there is a scene about halfway through the film where Precious is sitting in her hospital room after recently giving birth to her second child. Her life outlook at this point is nothing short of dreadful, yet surrounded by her friends from class and her doctor who proves to be one of the few people in her life who actually care about her, Precious seems to be genuinely happy for the first time in her life.

While Lee Daniels directing proves to be very erratic at times, the strengths of lead performances are what really carry this movie along. While I wouldn't call it a masterpiece like many other seem to be doing, Precious is still a very good film that takes a gritty and honest look into the life of a child succumbed to a lifetime of physical and mental abuse.

-Jeffrey Ryan

[...]
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uff! Kicked in the chest!, March 12, 2010
By 
Giordano Bruno (Here, There, and Everywhere) - See all my reviews
I meant to write a review of "Precious" even before I watched it. Lots of times, writing the review is more satisfying than watching the film. This is harder. I felt my heart constrict in the first scene of Precious. My eyes and temple began to throb. I could scarcely catch my breath the rest of the way through the film. "Life" requires too much of us sometimes. Sometimes even a simulation of Life requires too much.

Improbable as it may seem, coming from a retired classical musician like me, who has lived fairly well most of his life, a lot of the misery portrayed in Precious is horribly familiar and real. The poverty and brutishness and the haplessness of both takers and givers of "welfare" are not exaggerated here. Yeah, things seldom move that quickly or that much in 'real time', and yeah, Precious's classmates evolve from intolerable to empathetic as if by miracle. But the story line isn't very central to this film, or rather to my response to this film, which is all Sorrow for all of us, from Precious to Queen Elizabeth II. Life hurts too much. The rosy glow of Hope in "Precious", which some critics have applauded and some derided, is more light than warmth. There really isn't much chance for that girl-woman in the film, except for the one-in-sixty-million chance that she'll be discovered by a film maker.

"Precious" had a hundred times the impact on me that "The Hurt Locker" had. But I can't sit in judgment on the "art" of it as cinema. For sure, I won't forget it as quickly as I do most films.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, Gabby should have won the Oscar, March 11, 2010
Precious is a very difficult film to watch, the subject matter is really hard to swallow - a father that rapes his daughter many times, an abusive mother, and how that girl, Precious, lives with the damage done. This is a compelling movie, one that plays over and over for many women, more than should ever have to feel what Precious felt.

My initial reaction to the film was one of predictability, amazement at Mo'Nique's performance, and yes it was a sad movie with a silver lining. In a rare moment for my wife, we watched the DVD bonus features just after the film. My view of the film completely changed. These are remarkable features. The biggest surprise was the audition tape for Gabourey Sibide, Precious. I've seen a lot of audition reels; this is the best I've ever seen. The interview with Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry, and Oprah Winfrey (her bit was the least interesting) about why they took on this film was illuminating. There is an incredible discussion with Sapphire, the author of the book Push. And then there is the classic 'behind the scenes' cast member talking heads that sets a whole new standard for what these should be. The interview with Gabby is incredible. There were a few more features, but these made me appreciate the film in a whole new light.

Initially, Mo'Nique's performance was the standout. After reflection, every single cast member was spectacular. At first I understood the Academy Award going to Mo'Nique, she's a better known actress, the competition for supporting actress was much lighter, and the Academy needed to acknowledge this film somehow (the shame of not awarding it something would be too great). And I thought Sandra Bullock deserved best actress. After seeing the performance by Gabourey, that award went to the wrong person.

Lee Daniels, the director, did a great job of bringing this story to light. Thank you to him for not making this film more real or accurate to the book. In his words, the film would have been X rated and probably lost a significant audience. I'm grateful that Oprah arrived to this film after it was shot, edited, and shown. I can only imagine what she would have done to Color Purple it, if she had been involved in the beginning. This story is so compelling that will not comment on technical flaws that would only miss the point.

The film is rated R and is for mature audiences. The story is about a roughly sixteen year old girl, but it is very hard to recommend this film to younger viewers. There are graphic psychological scenes, mental and physical abuse, and a father raping his daughter. However, there is no nudity in the film. There is strong language throughout. The difficult aspect of this film, the exact audience that should see this film, thirteen or fourteen year old girls, will probably never see the film.

I loved this film. It is powerful and moving. There is nothing fun about watching this film. And the pain is that this kind of thing happens every day. Prepare your handkerchief.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now what are we going to do......, March 14, 2010
By 
On the surface "Precious" could be another sad movie about tragic circumstances of the poor, uneducated, etc. What I walked away with from the movie was the following:

1) the complexity of victimization, that in this society in an effort not to resolve the true core issues of our day, we spend all our focus on painstakingly analyzing why the victim is in the circumstances they find themselves and how its their fault. In Precious, we witness the victimization of a young girl, and not till the end do we see the victimization of the mother, and we see nothing of the victimization of the father.

2) failures of a society, that in a society that doesn't spend all its resources in maximally developing its citizenry, but instead creates multiple layers of winners based on categories of class, race, education, wealth and sex - you instead maximize victimization. Obviously a highly victimized society, were any victim can then turn perp, but for the most part doesn't turn activist is one that can be better managed and controlled and continually denied basic dignity.

3) choices, that each and every day we all have the choice to make our lives and the lives of others better from our vantage point. On our job when someone is being targeted, do you have the courage not to join in for fear you will be next. In your relatoinship when it becomes clear that it has taken an unhealthy turn, do you have the courage to seek support and the relationship's end instead of allowing the robbing of years of your life. As a professional doctor, lawyer, officer, etc. with the special priviliedges you enjoy in this society, your actions can be catastrophic to an individual's life, do you have the courage to not fall into the trap of feeling that the lives of others don't count, and therefore don't warrant your compassion or whatever real and safe assistance at your disposal.

4) justice, that each and everyone on this planet is deserving and in so believing that all of our resources must be brought to bear in order to bring about peace, justice, and the upliftment of life wherever we find ourselves. That it is not victims that are weak for they have truly survived unimaginable horrors, weakness are in the actions of the perp who neither possess the compulsion or imagination to do something other than harming/maiming/raping or killing of others as well as those who simply walk away (physically or mentally) when their resources could be of use.

Precious wasn't simply about the abuse of a young black girl; it was about the abuse and victimization of all people everywhere. I commend the writers, producers, actors and actresses, etc. having the courage to make this movie and in so doing - make a statement.

Now what are we going to do??
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One word "Deep", August 31, 2011
By 
This movie is unbelievable. Monique's performance is worth the Oscar she got for it. I made my daughter watch it because I needed her to see what some people go through including her own mother. Sometimes you cant find the words and movies (and books) will say it for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars PRECIOUS is a Gem, March 5, 2010
By 
In Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, inner city life for a desperate teen is portrayed as a hopeless cycle of poverty, neglect, and despair. As envisioned by director Lee Daniels from the adaptation by Geoffrey Fletcher, life is hard and only redeemed by people who care and are willing to nurture the abused victim. This is a harrowing look at a dysfunctional family and one girl's hope for a better life, and it benefits from towering performances by newcomer Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique who bring home this heartfelt, slice of life.

The story opens with a pleasant, idyllic family setting with a teenager, Precious (Gabourey Sidibe), and the fantasy turns suddenly into a stark reality. It is 1987 Harlem where Precious lives as a cook, gofer, and almost as a slave to her domineering, abusive mother (Mo'Nique). Together, they are poor, always hungry and living on welfare. She hopes for a normal existence and is always beaten down verbally, physically and emotionally by her mom and the neighborhood gangs. She was pregnant at age 16 by her abusive, absentee father and already has a small, mentally challenged child by him. To escape her despair, she daydreams of a loving and supportive storybook world.

Switched to an alternative school that specializes in troubled youth, she meets a disparate group of girls and a disciplined teacher, Miss Rain (Paula Patton). Precious learns to read and understand a world beyond the confines of her existence. She begins to trust her teacher, and her support group is this motley group of classmates. This support comes into play when she gives birth to her second child and when her mother attacks her.

Her mother is so manipulative that she wants to stay on welfare, and she makes no secret of her distrust of white people. She even puts on a pretend act for a visiting social worker. At the welfare office, another social worker (Mariah Carey in no makeup) learns the horrible truth about Precious' home life. Before long, Precious receives bad news that rocks her world and sets up a confrontation with her manipulative, con-artist of a mom and determines an uncertain future for herself and her children.

Daniels lends a very sure hand in directing this powerful story. Even as a novice director, he grabs his audience and keeps you involved in a very interesting tale based on truth. He offers a fresh perspective and after a success at producing (Monsters Ball, The Woodsman), is a talent to watch. The film is shot in almost a handheld semi-documentary manner. The budget must have been modest which suits the setting and story. Its technique and exposition belie an independent film (Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey are executive producers).

Sidibe and Mo'Nique carry the show, but Patton and Carey are quite good as supportive characters. Singer Lenny Kravitz has a small but effective part as a male nurse who befriends Precious.

The only real negative is that the film ends abruptly which may be just the point-that life does go on and it does so on Precious' own terms. This is no Hollywood ending, that's for sure. Also, repetitive use is made of Precious' daydream fantasies of a happier life. It almost veers to self parody although there is an excellent moment where she dresses in front of a mirror and sees a well dressed white woman; so much for visual statements about self image.

So good are the portrayals of Precious and her mom that the other characters are given only marginal exposition. We want to learn more about her teacher and her classmates, but this is, after all, a story about Precious. For her first acting gig, Sidibe does a remarkable job, and Mo'Nique is so convincing as a maternal monster, that Oscar beckons. For a film based on real life experiences and truths, this one is hard to beat.
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Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire [Blu-ray]
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