Nov 10 2009

Film Critics on PRECIOUS: One of the Most Unforgettable Films of the Decade

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PRECIOUS, the film everyone is talking about, is out in theaters TODAY and the critics are raving. Click here to check showtimes and buy tickets to what the critics are calling one of the most unforgettable films of the decade. Below are some reviews of the film, directed by Lee Daniels and starring Mo’Nique, Gabourey Sidibe and Mariah Carey. Click on the publication link to read the full review.

Hope amid the horror By Lou Lumenick, New York Post

Meet Claireece Precious Jones. the unlikely heroine of Lee Daniel's wrenching and uplifting "Precious," which has been wowing both critics and audiences on the festival circuit since January. Believe the hype. […] This movie offers the inspirational tale of how Precious finds hope after she's assigned to an alternative school where a kindly lesbian teacher (Paula Patton) encourages her to study and to keep a journal. Daniels manages to draw a highly effective performance out of a severely de-glamorized Mariah Carey (complete with faint mustache) as a sympathetic but tough social worker who has to referee a climactic showdown between the newly empowered Precious and her mother. "Precious" balances all this darkness with light moments, including some joking around with Precious' classmates, a possible love interest (Lenny Kravitz) and the glitzy showbiz fantasies into which Precious periodically flees.

’Precious’ is great American cinema by David Germain, The Associated Press

 "Precious" — both the film and its grandly resilient title character — will steal your heart. Lee Daniels, in just his second film as director, crafts a story that rises from the depths of despair to a place of genuine hope. […] Mariah Carey delivers warmly and honestly in a small role as a social worker. […] "Precious" and all its disparate ingredients constitute one very big miracle — and a glimpse of what American cinema still can be, whether or not Hollywood cares about making good films.

Film Review By Owen Gleiberman,

Part of the great power of movies is that they can take us perilously close to the life of someone we might otherwise feel perilously far from. The title character of Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire is a hushed, damaged, morbidly obese 16-year-old African-American girl from the lower depths of Harlem. […] Precious comes to the attention of a welfare counselor, played by Mariah Carey with an authentically deglammed compassion. […] Precious is a film that makes you think, ''There but for the grace of God go I.'' It's a potent and moving experience, because by the end you feel you've witnessed nothing less than the birth of a soul.

Girl, Interrupted By Rex Reed, The New York ObserverThe harrowing Precious is one of the most unforgettable films of the decade. The movie is about the struggle to survive in the face of severe adversity, and the message is that every undervalued Precious deserves respect as a human being.

Howls of a Life, Buried Deep Within By A.O. Scott, The New York TimesIn Lee Daniels’s risky, remarkable film adaptation of Sapphire’s 1996 novel, written by Geoffrey Fletcher, the facts of Precious’s life are also laid out with unsparing force (though not in overly graphic detail). […] Precious’s cosmos, for better and for worse, is a universe of women: the social worker (Mariah Carey, scrubbed of any vestige of divahood); the teacher, Ms. Rain; her co-worker in the remedial education program, played by the comedian and talk show host Sherri Shepherd; and Precious’s fellow students. […]  Ms. Sidibe, perhaps the least-known member of this movie’s unusual cast, is also the glue that holds it together. Nimble and self-assured as Mr. Daniels’s direction may be, he could not make you believe in “Precious” unless you were able to believe in Precious herself. You will.

Film Review By Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times

There's one element in the film that redeems this landscape of despair. That element is hope. Not the hope of Precious, but that of two women who want better for her. [...] Daniels must have an instinct for performances waiting to flower. Mariah Carey and Patton are equal with Sidibe in screen impact; the film holds the girl in the center of their attempt to save her future. Why would a teacher and a social worker go to such lengths to intervene? They must see tragic victims of abuse every day.

Hard-Knock Life. By Mary Pols, TIME

Thanks to an array of outstanding performances, Precious is one of the year s most powerful films. The movie has the kind of authenticity and ugly immediacy that make the tears of a viewer sitting in the dark safety of a movie theater seem a little silly-indulgent even. That's not to say there is a lack of compelling emotional material in the story of Claireece Precious Jones, an obese and pregnant teenager whose life so far has been filled with nothing but unrelenting private abuse and systemic public neglect.

By Bradley Jacobs, US Weekly
Mariah Carey soars in a small role in this drama - yet hers is just one of many revelatory performances. […] As Precious fights to get through each day, she finds two beacons of hope: an inspiring teacher (Paula Patton) and Carey's no-nonsense social worker. The final showdown in her office may be the year's most stirring scene.

Strong ensemble serves story of a teenage Job By Micbael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

The first 20 minutes of "Precious" are so intense and pitched so high, you may not feel like sticking it out. My advice: Stick it out. This is an exceptional film about nearly unendurable circumstances, endured. You will come out the other side of it a markedly enriched filmgoer. […] And Mariah Carey - who knew the pop diva had such a good, honest, clean performance in her? She plays a social worker and in a couple of lengthy interactions, Carey and Sidibe find common performance ground where you wouldn't think any existed. […] The supporting characters keep the movie hopping. It's not an easy film to watch. But neither, for many reasons, is "Precious" easy to forget.

Best movie of the year? You better believe it By Geoff Berkshire, Metromix"Precious" is a force of nature. You don’t simply watch the movie, you experience it—in all its fury, hope, bitterness, grace, horror and redemption. Yes, it’s dark and not always easy, but Daniels approaches the potentially alienating material in an unpredictable fashion that’s varied and layered. This is no simple sob story or pat tale of overcoming obstacles, it’s a film of generous humanity with deft humor and clever subversions of You Can Do It clichés. […] Can you overhype a movie this good? Anything’s possible. But I’ve seen “Precious” twice now, and I’m still in awe. You must see it. It’s the movie of the year. […] Mariah Carey’s breakthrough performance is just one of the movie’s many believe-it-when-you-see-it selling points.

'Precious' cuts deep By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times

Nothing quite prepares you for the rough-cut diamond that is "Precious." A rare blend of pure entertainment and dark social commentary, this shockingly raw, surprisingly irreverent and absolutely unforgettable story of an obese, illiterate, pregnant black Harlem teen circa 1987 is one that you hope will not be dismissed as too difficult, because it should not be missed. […] Most of the characters are a study in restraint. Mariah Carey, sans makeup and minis, is almost unrecognizable and a pleasant surprise as the tough New York social worker who eventually gets Precious' case. […] There was a risk in keeping "Precious" raw and unvarnished, in going in close on so many ugly truths, but it was worth it for the powerful social drama that emerged.

Rough cut gem shines in Harlem By Owen Gleiberman, NY Daily News

You don't have to be a ­teenager ­living in Harlem to appreciate "Precious." You don't have to be illiterate or obese. You don't even have to know how it feels to be repeatedly let down by the very people meant to protect you. But you do need an open mind, because without firsthand experience, you'll have to trust that girls like Precious — lovable, but unloved — do exist. You'll need an open heart, as well, to believe that beauty can survive in the face of so much ugliness. […] The film's real strength is its cast, from an Oscar-bound Mo'Nique to a notably deglammed Mariah Carey (as an overwhelmed social worker).

'Precious' is raw and painful but poignant By Claudia Puig, USA Today

The story of Clareeice "Precious" Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) is a powerful one. […] Director Lee Daniels' eclectic filmmaking style mitigates some of the audience's pain. He intersperses the grim drama, shot in darker tones often with a handheld camera, with Precious' escapist fantasies, drenched in vivid color and tinged with humor. Though it's sometimes jarring, it's as if he senses our psychic battering and offers solace just when we need it most. […] Precious begins learning to read and write, thanks to the dedication of her teacher Blu Rain (Paula Patton). A compassionate social worker (Mariah Carey in a startlingly subtle performance) helps Precious gain strength. […] It's not hard to understand why this film won the Grand Jury and Audience awards at the Sundance Film Festival. It's hard to be unmoved by Precious' determination. The remarkable performances drive home the film's inspiring message.
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