Saturday, November 14, 2009
Devastating drama of an overweight, illiterate 16 year old African American girl in Harlem circa 1987. Director Lee Daniels pulls no punches exploring the horrors that are this young girl's everyday world. Precious has been raped twice by her father resulting in her second pregnancy as the film begins. She struggles in school, and and lives under the tyranny of her abusive mother.
Pregnant and failing, Precious is sent to an alternative school where she begins to improve under the guidance of a friendly teacher. While her educational awakening begins to change her life, her world at home continues to spiral out of control.
Gabourey Sidibe stars as Precious and she is a wonder. This is an extremely difficult part and yet Ms. Sidibe never compromises and pours out every raw emotion on screen. The film co-stars the comedienne, Mo'nique, playing against type as a monster of a mother. The physical and mental abuse she brings down on Precious is almost unbearable to watch. I would expect Oscar nominations in the future for both women.
The film also features Paula Patton, as the teacher who gets through to Precious, Lenny Kravitz as a hospital nurse and Mariah Cary, almost unrecognizable in her role as a social worker. Mr. Kravitz and Ms. Cary only have a few scenes but they are both very credible.
This is not an easy film to watch but it is powerful filmmaking. There is no doubt that girls like Precious are out there struggling to survive every day. However, while not a traditional "upbeat" ending, there is a message of hope at the end.