Precious: Based on the novel PUSH by Sapphire – Review

Starring Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, Paula Batton
109 minutes
Opens at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF):
September 13, 2009 @ 9:30pm – Roy Thompson Hall
September 14, 2009 @ 12:30pm – Winter Garden Theatre
General Release: November 20, 2009

**** stars out of five

Precious is an urban horror story about an illiterate and overweight Harlem teen. Clareece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) endures every imaginable abuse and cruelty at the hands of both her mother (Mo’Nique) and father. To cope with the daily pain and humiliation the sixteen-year-old conjures up elaborate fantasies of being a well-loved and adored celebrity. Placed into an alternative school program Precious is fortunate enough to find a caring and compassionate teacher (Paula Patton) who helps her to discover what it is to be loved and to find self-worth and purpose in life.

Why See It?
Lee Daniels has molded Precious into a dramatic masterpiece. He navigates scenes of horror and rape to fantasy and happiness, with great ease. And the cast is superb – all solid performances. Considering newcomer Gabourey Sidibe has no formal training, this actress straddles her character brilliantly. But the strongest performance was by Mo’Nique who nails the cruel and monsterous “mommie dearest.”

There are a few nice surprises in the cast. Mariah Carey is a welfare worker who is hardly recognizable with no makeup and a slight mustache line above her upper lip. Then there is Lenny Kravitz – Precious (along with any warm-blooded female) has a liking for the handsome and lovable male nurse.

Based on the novel Push by Sapphire via a collaboration between Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry this already acclaimed movie is a “must see” at the Toronto International Film Festival this year. Although very disturbing and overwhelming, it is really a story about overcoming powerlessness and despair.