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Monday, November 23, 2009


Precious - A Maple Pictures Release


Release Date: November 20th, 2009

Rated 14A for child abuse including sexual assault, disturbing content and coarse language.

Running time: 109 minutes

Lee Daniels (dir.)

Geoffrey Fletcher (Screenwriter)

Based on the book Push by Sapphire

Mario Grigorov (music)

Gabourey 'Gabby' Sidibe as Precious

Mo'Nique as Mary

Paula Patton as Ms. Rain

Mariah Carey as Mrs. Weiss

Lenny Kravitz as Nurse John

Our reviews below:


Precious Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire, is the story of an abused, poor, and uneducated teenage girl, Claireece “Precious” Jones, growing up in Harlem in 1987. Suffering unimaginable abuse at home from her parents, she finds a safe haven at an alternative school. Though she is pregnant for the second time by her own father, things are actually starting to look up for her for the first the first time.

The film is genuinely, painfully human, both in it’s moments of bleak darkness, and in it’s small moments when we find ourselves cheering for Precious. Like when she runs out of a diner with an un-paid for bucket of chicken in her hands. We know it’s wrong, but we also understand why she’s doing it.

The acting is excellent all around, particularly Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe as Precious, and comedienne Mo’Nique in the truly disturbing role of her mother. Mariah Carey as a social worker, Lenny Kravitz as a nurses’ aid, and Paula Patton as her teacher, round out the superb supporting cast.

Though I’m not sure if it’s because of the film’s limited budget, or just a stylistic choice, the shifting camera angles, constant close-ups, and shaky cam served as a bit of a distraction.

The amazing performances and powerful storyline, keep the film grounded in it’s harsh reality. It’s hard too watch, but it’s also sometimes hard to look away. It's at times quite disturbing, but it's also not devoid of all hope, and that's what keeps us watching. Precious may very well end up winning Best Picture at this year’s Oscars. Although I personally wouldn’t vote it for more than just a nomination in that category, it would still be a worthy recipient of the top prize. This is an excellent film, that is worth going out to see.


Precious Review By Erin V.

***3/4 (out of 4)

The movie Precious: Based on the Book Push by Sapphire, is a powerful movie indeed. What it isn't though, is this years Slumdog Millionaire - at least for me. Something about this movie just wasn't as well put together for me. In essence, I think it was a combination of things. The story as you may or may not already know, is that of Claireece 'Precious' Jones, a 16 year old abused and uneducated teenage girl in 1987. She is pregnant through incest for the second time, and lives with her mother, who is one of her abusers. She ends up in an alternative school, where she finally starts to understand the importance of education, and who she is.

While this is a solid movie, there are things that keep it from a four star for me. The strengths of the movie lie in the powerful storyline and the acting. Especially the acting. One of the drawbacks is the way that this film was shot. A lot of the camera angles and choices in editing made the film feel very much like I was watching a film to me. Some of the angles in certain scenes, where the characters are speaking with each other, the close-cuts between their faces and hands feels kind of unnatural.

Overall, this is a very good movie, and will probably grab a Best Picture nom. Whether or not it wins, we will have to wait and see. The importance of literacy as a path to freedom, as shown in this film, ring very true in the real world. While parts of it are hard to watch, it is worth seeing.


Precious Review By Nicole

***3/4 (out of 4)

Precious, based on the novel Push by Sapphire, is both a heart wrenching and inspiring story. The movie, set in Harlem in 1987, tells the story of Claireese "Precious" Jones, a heavy set, African-American girl who endures horrific abuse. Her mother treats her like a slave, tells her she is worthless, and often throws various objects at Precious for seemingly no reason. Precious is pregnant for the second time around, after being raped by her own father. She is illiterate, and is at risk of being expelled for being disruptive in school. However, Precious remains strong throughout her ordeal, often relying on her imagination to get her through the day. Precious discovers hope when she joins an alternative school. Here, a kind, maternal teacher helps Precious learn to read, and more importantly, teaches Precious that she is lovable. Precious also finds support in her classmates, and a concerned social worker. Once Precious meets people who care, her world has a glimmer of light.

Precious is a powerful film. While often hard to watch, I couldn't pull myself away form this film. The acting in this film is extremely believable. Newcomer Gabourey Sidebe is amazing as Precious. The other actors are just as good. Precious is a movie that, while telling such a dark tale, offers hope to all those who survive poverty and abuse.


Precious Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Precious is a powerful film that is very difficult to watch, but even more difficult to ignore. The title character, Clareece “Precious” Jones, is a 16 year old, pregnant for the second time after years of sexual abuse by her father, and still enduring physical and emotional abuse by her mother. The only glimmer of hope in her life comes when she is sent to an alternative school that focuses on literacy skills for troubled young woman.

This film doesn’t shy away from showing the harsh realities of Precious’ life. There are sexual scenes that evoked collective gasps from the theatre audience, yet this isn’t a shock value film. The strength of Precious is in the powerfully raw performances by the lead characters. Gabourey Sidibe is amazing to watch as Precious, as is Mo’Nique who plays her abusive mother.

My favourite parts of the movie are the scenes at the alternative school. Seeing Precious and the other young woman start to open up through the journal writing exercises kept the story from being a complete tragedy.

My only criticism is of Precious would be that some of the camera techniques (odd angles, shifting) distracted me in some of the scenes and shifted my focus away from the dialogue.

If you can get past the emotionally difficult subject matter, then this is a must see film. There is excellent acting throughout and a really powerful story in Precious. No doubt there will be Oscar nominations for Precious.


Precious Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Precious, based on the book Push by Sapphire, a New York poet, tells the story of the 16 year old Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe). With a developmentally delayed daughter living with her grandmother, she is pregnant by her absent father with a second child. She lives with her welfare mother (Mo’Nique), who sits around all day watching tv and with a constant stream of insults treats Precious as a servant. Morbidly obese, functionally illiterate, and bullied by her peers, she can still dream of a happier life as a performer with a light-skinned boyfriend. Her public school principal gets her into an alternate literacy program with a small group of other at risk young women taught by Ms. Rain (Paula Patton), who with caring patience gradually brings Precious to a better place.

With its endorsement by Oprah Winfrey and others, Precious has already attained iconic status. With brilliant performances directed by Lee Daniels in a relentless documentary style, it is a disturbing portrayal of life at its worst, from which there can still come some hope. Most will find it appropriately disturbing, if not put off by the rough language.

Coincidentally, Precious is coming out about the same time as The Blind Side. With its feel good success story, the latter film has already suffered in comparison, unjustly in my opinion, since it is much more accessible and based on a true story, while watching Precious, a fictional composite of the worst cases the author encountered in her work with inner city youth, felt like an obligation–much harder to take, like medicine. Both films in their own ways are highly recommended.


Consensus: Though not perfect, Precious is an excellent film, with a powerful story line, and excellent acting. It is sure to pick up many awards. ***1/2 (Out of 4)

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