Sunday, 7 February 2010

Precious (dir. Lee Daniels)

Plot: In Harlem, an overweight, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child by her father is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.

Cast: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz


'Precious' may not sound like the perfect film to 'escape to'. The film is hard to watch, it is cruel, unrelenting, and very rarely stops the onscreen trauma to allow a break for the viewer.
However one of the key themes of the film is 'escape', the character of Precious survives her horrible circumstances by escaping into her imagination and because of this is probably the only reason that she can survive.

These moments of escape are shown through a series of flamboyant and hyper stylised dreamlike sequences in which Precious imagines a much better life for herself, a life of fame, popularity, and wealth. These sequences (although much needed) didn't feel at home within the film itself, perhaps they were not executed in the right way but they end up being the least interesting moments of the piece anyhow. That said, it is hard to imagine watching 'Precious' without these said moments of escape, every time one comes along it does so at exactly the right time, unfortunately this means that another horror has happened to Precious. We the viewer are with Precious throughout the film, when we can't handle what is happening onscreen we are transported to an imaginary 'better life' with her, we are transported to her sanctuary.

Knowing what 'Precious' is about I cant say I was looking forward to seeing it, yes the film is hard to watch mostly due to the terrifying presence of Precious's mother (played by an incredible Mo'nique). When things seem to start going well for Precious more misfortune is waiting around the corner for her and because of this it is a heavy film to endure.

What I got from watching 'Precious' was that it is a film about 'survival', the film's heroine is still a tender age and has already endured a lifetimes worth of pain which seems to be ever growing still. Despite the wicked card life has dealt her Precious is a survivor, she wants to make something of herself even if she is the only one who thinks she can. It is a film about selflessness and how there is great evil in the world but also a lot of caring and decent people and in dark times it is easy to forget that.

The character of Precious always looks up no matter how many times she is beaten down, her determination to live on for her two children is a true inspiration for all who witness it and I recommend anyone and everyone to do just that.


From 'Monster's Ball' to his latest offering it is clear that director/producer Lee Daniels is not interested in making films that are easy to swallow, because of this 'Precious' will not be for everyone but it will offer a lot to anyone who watches it.

The film is driven by an outstanding array of performances by its cast (even Mariah Carey is good here as well as Lenny Kravitz) but it is Mo'Nique who steals the show here, if she doesn't win best support at he Oscars for this there is something terribly wrong.

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