Clarence “Precious” Jones (Gabourey ‘Gabby’ Sidibe) has had a tough life. At the age of 16, she’s been pregnant twice (currently pregnant for the second time), due to being raped by her father. Her mother, Mary (Mo’Nique) abuses her and her daughter, who has down syndrome. She berates her and calls her stupid, which results in poor grades at school. When the principal suspends her, she recommends an alternate school. Here she meets Ms. Rain (Paula Patton), who helps her read and write, helping her through her problems.
Precious: Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire delves into the mind of an abused and pregnant teenager, and how she copes with it. Gabourey Sibide gives a riveting performance as Precious. She slowly builds the drama, instead of rushing into it. Just like most teenagers, she hides her feelings, until she’s pushed to far and explodes (such as talking with Ms. Rain and her mother’s welfare associate, Mrs. Weiss (Mariah Carey) and even getting in a fight with her mother).
Mo’Nique also gives a stunning performance as the abusive mother, Mary. Known for her comedy, I wasn’t expecting much from Mo’Nique. But, like most comedians who tackle drama, she knows how to range her acting abilities, and when to go all out. When she reveals why she abuses her daughter, she puts on an award-worthy performance that not only makes you understand why she hurt her daughter, but still makes you hate her.
The rest of the cast is great as well. Mariah Carey is surprisingly believable as Mrs. Weiss, while Paula Patton is fine as Ms. Rain. Despite the small role, Lenny Kravitz was good as Nurse John, who helped deliver Precious’ baby. All of the teenagers who play Precious’ classmates/friends do their part as well.
Lee Daniels does a prime job of directing. He doesn’t rush anything, nor does he make the movie go too long (the movie’s running time is 110 minutes). He handles the drama well, building tension towards the end. My only complaint (which is my only complaint for the whole film) is that the camera is shaky from time to time. But, it’s only a minor issue that doesn’t blemish the film.
Precious is a work of art. The performances are top-notch, as is the direction. It moves at a breezy pace, not rushing or going too long. It’s depressing, but also portrays a great lesson. Precious is, without a doubt, one of the best movies of the year.