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Precious movie poster

Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire: Movie Review

Rated: R
Directed by: Lee Daniels
Starring: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz
Released by: Lions Gate Entertainment

In Short: Brutal, intense, and ultimately a story of survival, “Precious” is one of 2009’s must-see movies, with astounding performances by three talented actresses.

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Don’t Miss “Precious”

s the New Year unfolds, the old adage holds true: Paying money to see any movie released in January is usually a bad idea, as the month is traditionally a dumping ground for crummy flicks. On the other hand, using January to catch up with the Oscar contenders that began in limited release in 2009 and are expanding into more theaters is definitely the way to go.

That’s why it is time to take in “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire.” This brutal, intense look at Precious, a 16-year-old heavyset Harlem girl whose life has been a continuing nightmare, may sound like a downer, but in the capable hands of director Lee Daniels is something else entirely.

Mariah Carey in Precious Lenny Kravitz and Gabourey Sidibe in Precious

Daniels has populated his film with an assortment of unexpected actors who give unforgettable performances, beginning with Gabourey Sidibe. This first-time actress takes on the role of Precious and infuses her with a strange sort of dignity as she struggles to get an education while contending with intense abuse both at home and on the street. She’s fearless, and completely believable, and is garnering numerous breakthrough awards and best actress nominations as awards season goes into full swing.

Singer Mariah Carey is a revelation, as well, as the social worker that helps Precious escape her abusive home. You may not even recognize her sans make-up and glamorous accoutrements, as she channels a typical hard-working New Yorker who has seen it all but still finds a way to have empathy for a child in need.

But it is comic actress Mo’Nique who makes the most incredible transformation for this compelling, emotional film. As Precious’ abusive mother, she is scary, pathetic, and horrific; and a virtual lock as Oscar’s Best Supporting Actress for her searing performance.

“Precious” is a film that will stay with you long after the screen goes dark, both because of those true-to-life characterizations as well as the story of triumph over ultimate adversity. Don’t miss it.

Reviewed by Jenny Peters

(Updated 02/10/10 AR)

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