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Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner27/01/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 109 mins

Impressively directed, powerfully emotional drama with a strong script and Oscar-worthy performances from Mo'Nique and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe.

What's it all about?
Directed by Lee Daniels, Precious is based on the novel Push, by Sapphire, a New York poet who worked with at-risk teenagers and wrote a collection of stories based on their experiences. Newcomer Gabourey Sidibe plays Clareece ‘Precious’ Jones, an obese, illiterate 16-year-old girl who's pregnant by her father and lives with her abusive, alcoholic mother Mary (Mo'Nique) who repeatedly beats her for stealing her man.

When Precious is expelled from school for lashing out at a fellow pupil, she's invited to join Each One, Teach One, an alternative education program run by inspirational teacher Blu Rain (Paula Patton). While attending the program, Precious gains her first friends, learns to read and write and gradually begins to stand up for herself.

The Good
Precious won the Sundance Jury Prize under the name Push, but had its title changed to avoid confusion with the rubbish sci-fi Dakota Fanning movie. It's also likely to be the recipient of some Academy Awards glory come Oscar time, at least if executive producer Oprah Winfrey has anything to do with it.

Sidibe delivers a terrific performance as Precious that is genuinely heartbreaking to watch, but leaves you with a note of hope as she gradually comes out of her shell, gains confidence through her writing and begins to respond to the kindnesses around her. There's also terrific support from Patton and from an unrecognisable Mariah Carey as a kindly social worker, but the stand-out is Mo'Nique who is utterly horrifying as the monstrous Mary – her devastating final scene alone ensures that her Best Supporting Actress nomination is in the bag.

The Great
The script is excellent, layering in subtly disturbing cultural details, such as the fact that Precious fantasises about being a blonde white girl; it also deserves credit for presenting a healthy, supportive lesbian relationship (Miss Rain and her partner) without feeling the need to make it a big plot point. The naturalistic dialogue is equally good, as is the fact that the film manages to find patches of humour amongst the darkness, mainly in the way Precious' classmates make fun of each other.

Worth seeing?
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire is a superbly directed, powerfully emotional drama with a sharply written script and terrific performances from Sidibe and Mo'Nique. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

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Content updated: 18/09/2018 22:50

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