Written by Geoffrey Fletcher
Directed by Lee Daniels
Starring Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz
By now, you have certainly heard about PRECIOUS. It is certainly connecting with people in an inspired fashion and Black Sheep Reviews will be taking a closer look at the Lee Daniels film over the course of the next few days. PRECIOUS has had an incredible journey and Black Sheep will break that down for you with interviews with the film's director and its star, Gabourey Sidibe. For now, here are my initial thoughts on the film when I caught it at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award.
Changing the name from “Push” to “Precious” was a smart thing for Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry to do after theysigned on as executive producers on this one. If there is one thing that Lee Daniels’ PRECIOUS does, it reminds you just how that word applies to life. No matter how bad you thought you might have it before you see this movie, you will think you’re living large by the time it is over. And the best thing about PRECIOUS is that it doesn’t ask us for our sympathy, it inspires it.
Newcomer, Gabby Sidibe, plays the title character. At 16 years old, she can barely read, she is seriously overweight and is pregnant with her second child. She lives with her mother (Mo’Nique), who sees her more as a means to get bigger welfare cheques and much less an actual daughter. She treats her with even less respect than that, if you can believe it. I am only scratching the surface here. Precious has problems that I cannot even imagine and the stark manner in which Daniels lets bomb after bomb drop on the Harlem circa 1987 setting not only shakes you out of your comfort with the film but also with yourself.
PRECIOUS boasts incredible performances from the entire cast – including smaller parts from The View’s Sheri Shephard and a completely stripped down Mariah Carey as a lowly cubicle social worker. (Diva even has a mustache!) It is the mother/daughter dueling between Mo’Nique and Sidibe that will be getting the most attention though and deservedly so. Their relationship is so strained but these two actors fill the wide space between them with complexities so deep that you are not comfortable being in the same room as both of them. Novice director, Daniels has guided some of the most unexpected and delicate performances of the year.
Ordinarily, modern human nature dictates that we should look away from such hardship – that matters like these are private ones and we have no business getting involved. Of course, this is just an excuse we tell ourselves so that we don’t actually have to get involved. PRECIOUS doesn’t allow you to look the other way though. More importantly, it reminds us that problems do not belong to one but to all and that everything is a gift of the universe.