Saturday, November 21, 2009

Precious didn't really make my spirit soar...

I think there's this common trend these days among movie marketeers to promote certain films as having a 'feel-good factor' or being 'uplifting', even when the subject matter is a bit harrowing or challenging.
Precious butterfly movie poster
The other night I watched Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire (to give it its full name) and although I thought it was a well made, extremely well acted, thought-provoking movie, I can't say I left the cinema feeling particularly joyful.

Set in late-80's Harlem it's a sad tale of abuse, neglect and misery, which the titular character, Precious, has to endure during her childhood. She's a massively overweight, illiterate African-American teenager pregnant with her second child.

The glimmer of hope comes when people, like her school teachers, show some interest in her and help educate her, so that she can gain the necessary tools to survive and break free of her thankless existence.
Precious movie poster
Luckily there are also some humourous dream sequences to lighten the tone of the film throughout and excellently played classmate characters in the form of 'Joann' (Xosha Roquemore) and Chyna Layne's 'Rhonda', otherwise I think everyone in the audience would have been throughly depressed.

But aside from this humour, mostly the audience was gasping at the raw and terrible situations Precious lives through.

By the end of the movie you feel Precious is heading in the right direction, and that she's achieved this through her own efforts against insurmountable adversity, but it's still not the happily-ever-after that you'd really want for her.

It's an emotional film with great performances by the lead actress Gabourey Sidibe as 'Precious', Paula Patton as her caring teacher 'Ms. Rain', a surprisingly affecting turn by Mariah Carey 'sans makeup' as her social worker and of course Mo'Nique as Precious' abusive mother.
Precious film poster
Her mother, 'Mary', is such an unsympathetic character that it's hard to feel anything for her but distaste, but in the dream sequences you can see the versatile actress that she is and she plays the bullying mother so convincingly you forget that's not what she's like that in real life.

Getting back to my earlier point, there was another film I watched over the summer which was billed as a lighthearted drama, Amreeka. The movie was about an immigrant Palestinian mother and son who moved from the West Bank to Illinois in the U.S.A. during the invasion of Iraq. She went from being a professional, well-educated woman with two degrees in her home country to flipping burgers at a fast-food chain, whilst her son suffers racial prejudice from their new community. Again it was a good film, but it was marketed as something slightly different to what it actually was.

I know that Hollywood spews out so much sugar-coated nonsense, that you do need these kinds of films to balance out the scales, but I have to say they are not always so enjoyable to watch and frankly can be a little traumatic at times.
Precious poster
But, maybe that's the point. We should just be thankful that this has happened to someone else and we can feel safe in our nice comfortable lives in our cosy homes.

I can't say that Precious is a movie I'd watch over and over again at home, but I'm glad I saw it at the cinema and I give it three *** stars and wouldn't be surprised if it nabs some Oscars for the outstanding acting next year.

Everyone's entitled to their opinion, so let me know what you thought of the movie...

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails