Saturday, January 16, 2010

Precious review

In case you haven't seen this movie yet, let me give you a little taste on what Precious is all about. Precious, the main character, lives at home with her mother. She has a child with down syndrome, she has another baby on the way... I hope I'm not giving anything away by saying that both children are by his father. But none of these details are revealed in a surprising way. They're all just kind of laid out, one detail after the other. Precious can't read. She and her mother are on welfare. Her mother forces her to cook for her and she better do what her mother says because she randomly throws things at her when Precious does not listen to her. Pretty much, her mother is a monster. She does not want her to succeed in life, she barely wants her to live.

This is a brutal movie to watch at times. There are some scenes that are just very hard to take and they might make some people feel a bit uneasy. Although some of these scenes are awkwardly cut in with these fantasy sequences that, at times, feel out of place with the tone of the movie.

Now, I hate using the word "overrated," but Precious does have a 92% at That better be because of the performances which are amazing. Because, to me, this movie suffers from some sloppy editing, overly dramaticized scenes (cue slow-motion sequence of mother throwing the tv at her daughter... does this really have to be in slow-mo? Seriously?), and, as I just mentioned, the way too stylized fantasy sequences which feels awkwardly placed into the movie. I understand their purpose, but do they really fit in the middle of a very important scene between Precious and her mother?

The way Lee Daniels (or maybe it is his editor's fault) fits Precious being raped with scenes of food being fried is just disgusting... I don't see how fried beans fits with being raped, but apparently it does according to Daniels.

The sad thing about all this is that Gabby Sadibe gives an amazing performance as Precious. That's the one thing that really sticks out with me. That and the last scene with Mo'Nique and Gabby. That scene has such great acting that I almost forgot that the first 100 minutes of this movie is so ridiculously uneven. The fact that people are praising the whole rather than the sum of its parts is just confusing to me. I won't be too mad at the film being nominated for best picture because I know it won't win and there's ten nominees this year. But if Lee Daniels gets nominated for Best Director, then that will be a joke. Kathryn Bigelow, Quentin Tarantino, and Jason Reitman all made wonderful, well-crafted movies. James Cameron's movie might suffer from a cliche plot, but you can't deny its cutting edge technology.

The idea of Lee Daniels is in the same list as these people is unsettling especially since Neill Blomkamp's wonderful directorial debut (for his movie "District 9") is much more impressive. This movie is not enhanced by its director. In my opinion, he only got one thing right: the performances. If the movie was just a camera capturing the wonderful performances between Gabby and Mo'Nique, I might be giving him more credit. But all the unnecessary stylistic choices that he makes in this movie, I feel, takes away from their performances.

Novel by Sapphire
Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
Directed by Lee Daniels

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