Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Precious: A Film That Never Leaves You

As a reviewer/blogger, I see films A LOT so my approach is often "I came, I saw, I write". I share my opinions about plots, performances, and whether it's worth a trip to the theater then move on to the next thing. However, with Lee Daniels' "Precious" I can't act as if this is blogger business as usual.

If you follow my reviews then you know I sometimes write how a film makes me FEEL. Films that pull me in, make me truly engage and connect with the characters and the story are the ones I'm most passionate about. "Precious" is one of those films.

Despite the familiar brown faces in lead characters the story TRANSCENDS race. It's a story of spirit. Yes, it speaks to us culturally as African-Americans, but NOT exclusively. It's raw in its approach and brutally honest in its delivery, yet uplifting at its core. It's so real that at times I found it hard to watch. So real, in fact, it made me reflect on my own life and how I respond to certain things.

Truly, any artistic expression that stays with you long after the credits have rolled and the applause have ended, or potentially changes your way of thinking is one that should be elevated above the rest. Undoubtedly, this film will impact lives of young and old, black, white, human. That said, "Push", the book by Sapphire which the film is based on, must be equally if not more powerful in its impact. Read it!

The celebrity names attached to "Precious", Oprah, Tyler Perry, Mo'Nique, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, definitely get your attention. But what will keep your attention is how these performers are literally in stark contrast to the public personas we are so accustomed to seeing.

The plain-faced Mariah Carey sans the praticed smile, artificial eye lashes, perfect lighting, and exposed cleavage is remarkable as a social worker. She nailed the look and feel of the tired "overworked and underpaid" case workers that have heard it all before.

Paula Patton also delivers a performance that is stellar. As the person who first exemplifies patience and caring in Precious' painful world, she plays her pivotal role not as the savior we often see in films with troubled youth, but as a teacher and counselor that provides a way of coping that helps Precious save herself.

Newcomer, Gabourey Sidibe, is literally astounding as Precious. "Amazing" also comes to mind, but is used so much in showbiz to describes things that are not that I hesitate to use it here. But in this case I AM in awe and amazement at how this college student who dabbled in theater, brought the myriad of emotions needed to make Precious more than poster child for everything that's wrong in our communities.

And lastly, Mo'Nique as the bitter, violent, manipulative monster, Mary, is so thorough in her performance that audiences will be stunned by what they witness in "Precious" this opening weekend. In fact, many may be horrified and that is the beauty of this role.

Admittedly, I am a Mo'Nique supporter and have been since working together on "The Parkers". I've watched her progression from comedienne to actress and nothing prepared me for her outstanding performance. Not even her dramatic role in Daniels' "Shadowboxer" is close.

Yes, her performance in "Precious" is award winning, but more importantly it's life changing. Mary is a reflection of many ills in society that we don't like to talk about, so we ignore them, until they literally slap us in the face.

Thanks to Lee's superb creative direction, use of color symbolism, moments of humor, and the entire cast's dedication, "Precious" is a monumental success. Even after the box offices are tallied, the award shows are over, and the press has moved on, "Precious" will stay with us because we ARE all precious in His sight.

Precious opens in select theaters tomorrow, November 6th. Visit http://www.weareallprecious.com/ to find out where it's playing in your city.

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