Monday, March 01, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: Precious

Number of Nominations: 6 (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress - Gabourey Sidibe, Best Supporting Actress - Mo'Nique, Best Adapted Screenplay, Achievement in Film Editing)
Availability in the US: In Select Theatres (Check Showtimes)

The title character in Precious is an overweight, 16-year-old black girl who is pregnant, for the second time, with her father's child. Precious (Gabourey Sidibe) lives with her mother Mary (Mo'Nique) who is both physically and verbally abusive. Though she is not stupid, Precious doesn't do very well in school and ends up in an alternative school where she begins to flourish, despite her tragic circumstances.

Precious is a horribly sad, occasionally shocking film which succeeds instantly at grabbing and holding the audience's attention. There are moments that are almost certain to make most moviegoers teary-eyed. The story is well laid out, and the film seems to go by much more quickly than the nearly 2 hours it clocks in at. The film has a very interesting editing style which, at times, is reminiscent of Requiem for a Dream with its quick-cut camera shots. Interspersed with the action, often after Precious experiences particularly bad abuse from her mother, are dream sequences which have a very different filming style. These flights of fancy are what help to make Precious a likable, relatable character.

While the direction and script are spot-on, what really makes Precious an exceptional film is the acting. Sidibe, in her film debut, turns in a wonderful performance as both the quiet victim and the happy glamour girl we see in her fantasies. Mo'Nique turns in a powerhouse performance that audiences will find unforgettable. Her frequent screaming fits where she swears and throws things at Precious are so real and emotionally charged, audiences frequently gasp during several of her scenes. She is self-centered and oblivious to her own shortcomings; her final scene especially will have audiences shaking their heads.

Precious is without a doubt one of the best films of 2009. The film is everything a Best Picture contender is supposed to be: superbly acted, well written, engaging, and emotionally charged. Mo'Nique is practically a shoo-in for Best Supporting Actress, and Precious could also compete in Film Editing and Adapted Screenplay. Sidibe is likely to lose to one of the more experienced, well-known names in the Best Actress category, and unfortunately the Academy seems unlikely to recognize Precious in the Director or Picture categories.

Grade: A+

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