The unreal reality and disparaging tale of Clareece Precious Jones begins with an affliction of Precious’ diluted view of life. “I want to be on the cover of a magazine,” says the 16-year-old girl. “I wish I had a light-skinned boyfriend with good hair. But first I want to be in one of those BET videos.”
New talent Gabourey Sidibe plays the obese and illiterate Precious in the Oscar-buzzing film directed by Lee Daniels. Saddling up alongside Sidibe to make for one impressive female-led cast are Mo’Nique, Paula Patton and Mariah Carey.
It’s hard to recall a film carried by its acting as much as Precious is. Sure, the story, based on a novel by Sapphire, is dark and unrelenting and that alone makes for an effective drama, but the performances turned in by likes of Sidibe and Mo’Nique carries the film to a whole different quadrant of impactful storytelling. The extreme pain of the characters is felt alongside an unmistakable sense of reality, which is a combination proven time and time again to hit audiences the hardest.
And while Precious might end up as one of the toughest films to watch all year long because of the emotional performances coupled with content such as sexual, physical and mental abuse, there is a somewhat deeply-rooted sense of hope that exudes out of the tale of the struggling 16-year-old girl named Precious. Her admittance to an alternative school and the role that institution plays as a gleaming beam of hope gives the film a slight feel-good vibe you absolutely wouldn’t expect after the film’s opening sequences.
It’s easy to see why Precious has been stunning audiences at the various film festivals it has been shown at. The jarringly painful and intimate performances, especially Sidibe’s lead performance and the rather surprising and Oscar-deserving turn from Mo’Nique as Precious’ abusive mother, are all jaw droppers. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t think Mo’Nique had this kind of performance in her. With a round-up of acting credits that includes Phat Girlz and Soul Plane, you can’t blame me, but I’m glad to be proven wrong.
Even Mariah Carey adds to the dramatic mix with her solid performance as welfare worker Mrs. Weiss, a key character in the discovery of the revelations of Precious’ painful life. Paula Patton, as Ms. Blu Rain, Precious’ new teacher at her alternative school, gives the most inspiring and hopeful performance as Precious’ ticket out of her personal hell.
And as you study these characters a little more deeply, you find that each adds its own purpose to the story and to Precious herself. They’re more than simple characters with a name and a face. Precious herself is a puzzling character, she often sees herself living a different life, perhaps one of a slender white woman, and even though she might want change, shows a fear to engaging it. Her mother is her hindrance, Ms. Rain is her gateway to salvation and Mrs. Weiss is her personal diary. The final two characters are the undeniable sense of hope I make reference to.
Precious won’t win awards for cinematography, as the jerky handheld cam is unbalanced at times, but it should take home something for its acting. A female-led film such as this doesn’t come around that often and the achievements should be recognized.
Precious is a must-see film. While it is a bit of a tear-inducing film typical of the Oscar season, it leaves you feeling an overall sense of optimism and does so remarkably with its realistic grasp on life boosted by a round of great performances.