Saturday, December 19, 2009

Review: "Precious" (the feel-bad movie of the year)

I saw this movie last night, and I'm concerned.

I fell for the media hype back in September. I went downtown for the Toronto International Film Festival red carpet to celebrate the screening of "Precious" and catch a glimpse of my favourites: Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Sherri Shepard, Paula Patton, and the accompanying fanfare. I believed in the power of this movie, the strength of this story (based on reviews of the novel "Push") and I was ready to be impressed.

But sadly, you really just can't take Oprah's word on everything...

This movie was disappointing. Disturbing. It got under my skin, and failed at becoming the wonderful film I wished it to be.

For those who have suffered experiences of abuse, my sympathy is genuine, and my heart really goes out to the pain and difficulties that must be endured in an attempt to overcome that. I also understand that Ms. Winfrey and Mr. Perry, as victims of molestation, really felt that the story of Clareece "Precious" Jones really needed to be shared.

Yes, some stories are important for audiences to see and understand. Yes, it's important that not every movie is a fairy tale, and that reality is portrayed to the fullest. But damn. I couldn't blame the people in front of me at the theatre that walked out about 30 minutes into it. It was TOUGH to watch Mo'Nique's character cuss and beat and demean her daughter. It was tough to hear the internal defeated dialogue of the main character, played by Gabby Sidibe.

The most awful thing to see was the violence/ignorance towards the babies!!!!!!!!!! Who does that?

I braved an intense crowd of overbearing fans and grown men paparazzi to get this photo of Mary J. at the TIFF screening of "Precious" at Roy Thompson Hall.
Maybe I'm biased. When I go to a movie, I want to feel good about life, about the characters, and walk away having had an uplifting/ optimistic/ thought-provoking or at the very least an exciting/ adventure-filled experience. But instead, I literally sat in my seat for a good 5 minutes after the movie ended wondering..."huh?" and still shivering from the disturbing imagery.

That's it...? What happens next...? THIS is the movie Oprah and Tyler just had to jump on board with? I wish the movie started where it ended...the build up was uncomfortable, and when you finally had a moment of redemption...end scene. Roll credits.

I'm not convinced it was worth the anticipation.

But what I DO know is that Mo'Nique and Gabby definitely deserve nominations for their roles in this movie: the acting was fantastic!! Mariah Carey and Sherri Sheppard were pretty good too. They were all raw, they were physically exposed to the worst interpretation of their naturally beautiful selves, and they made you really FEEL what was going on.

  • Lenny Kravitz looked GOOD!
  • There were a few moments of humour to break the tension.
  • Precious' classmates and teacher (Paula Patton) were endearing.
Despite those highlights, I'm not even sure I would recommend this movie to anyone else, but I do know that I'm going to finally read the novel on which it was based ("Push" by Sapphire), to redeem the missing elements of plot development and inspirational story-telling that I felt the movie was lacking.

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  1. I haven't seen this film as yet, but I think im just going to wait for it to come on dvd.

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  3. I have to say I wish I hadn't seen this movie. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. I'm waiting for some movies about great black women doing something fabulous and being happy. I mean really, the moment of triumph for this young woman was being able to read a children's book?? I'm sorry, but that inspires me to do absolutely nothing.
    Up next the Princess and the frog am I right? I'm looking forward to your post Stacey!!!

  4. i said on facebook a few days ago..........Precious was the worst movie I have ever seen. The acting was good by Monique , Patton and Carey -- you didnt even know Mariah Carey was in the movie until you saw the credits. There was no moment of truth, or a time where she overcame or anything like that in the movie. She kept having those daydreams but none ever became and the ending was just dumb to me. " You'll never see me again " and she walks away..... WTF was that ?
    Im sorry but that movie gets a D from me. The only reason it didnt get a F is because the acting was good by Monique, Patton , Carey and others.

  5. I've yet to see the movie and was kinda excited too.. but I will now wait to see it on DVD or maybe not even bother and just go straight to the book. Sorry you had to experience such disapointment.

  6. Stacey, I felt the same way after watching the movie. I am not saying every movie should have this fairytale ending, but as a viewer I was left confused. I had to ask my sister what she got from the movie, like what did you take away from the ending of it. The movie precious left my mind boggled.

    As a viewer I honestly could not even sit through the movie without squirming and yelling at the graphics parts of the movie.

    Monique’s character as you said “cuss and beat and demean her daughter" it was extremely hard for me to watch. I think it was just too much. I am not saying that movies should show no creativity and push the envelopes, I guess maybe the movie overall was just not what I expected.

  7. I'm watching it now on DVD (as a SAG member I get promo screeners), and at the halfway mark, I just had to look up the phrase "feel-bad movie of the year" on Google. Yours was the top link... congratulations!

    For fear of spoiling the movie for myself, I didn't read past the first few paragraphs of your blog post, but I will come back when it's done!

    So far, though, it is definitely living up to the phrase...

  8. I totally agree, this movie disturbed me so much, the rape scene caught me off guard and frankly disturbed me by being so graphic in nature, the language was horrible, Monique and Gabby did a great performance but I am so confused at the end, it made no sense to me at all, I would not recommend this to others, ppl told me that I shouldn't see the movie and I should have listened to them as I still can't get the horrible images out of my head.

  9. The acting was good! The movie ending was Poor!

  10. I felt totally gross after watching the movie. I was sad, angry, disappointed, and just plain nasty after that viewing.

    Yes, Precious (the character) was inspiring. to have a horrible mother and a father who is your baby daddy is a different type of hell that i could not wish on anyone. oh, i shudder when i think of the crazy that her mother had and the crazy her dad had. i must say, Precious is sure one hell of a girl

    With that said, i still regret watching it. i gained nothing, lost a little of my innocence and my trepidation for people has surely doubled and perhaps tripled.

    Why was this movie worth making? beats the hell out of me. it did nothing but show what these white folks have long suspected about us blacks - and I'm sorry to say that the movie was created mainly to confirm their racist thoughts.

    Oprah and Perry are the biggest ripoffs this side of the world and I for one will NEVER fall for such a mockery of my own people ever again.

    p.s. i'm not denying that abuse occurs - but i shy away from people who themselves exploit the exploited.


  12. I was left feeling as bewildered as everybody else at the end of this movie, but then it occured to me that perhaps the lack of a typical over-the-top triumphant ending was exactly the point in this movie. While some people get the fairytale, for most of us faced with adversity we struggle through it as best we can and try to come out intact on the other side. This raw, graphic movie, was perhaps the truest account of real life.

  13. Wow. I was unwillingly dragged to this film by one of my cousins and I have to say that I wished I had seen Sherlock Holmes instead. This movie is one of the most disturbing movies I have ever seen. I became more and more uncomfortable as the film progressed and I could everyone else crying but my eyes stayed dry. I was too disturbed to cry. There was no hope. And I was sitting there I asked myself, "Are these the only movies they will ever make about black people?" Really? I mean can we just be portrayed as normal people? I mean I grew up in a happy, middle class family. The way movies tell it, you would barely know that black families like that exist. Some stories need to be told but I don't think Precious was one of them. I personally think that it was disturbing just for the sake of being disturbing if you know what I mean. I am dissappointed that Oprah endorsed this film. Gotta love Oprah but I do not agree with her on this one.

    1. Wow, I could have not said it better. I had exactly the same feeling and I am not even American never been in America either...

  14. Yeah , this movie is not for the faint of heart. It disturbed the heck out of me and it takes a lot to phase me these days. If you were sexually abused, be warned, it causes a lot of triggers. With that being said, I'm sure this movie helped someone somewhere. Just because it is disturbing doesnt make it any less true. I'm not sure if this story was based on a true story or not, but this DOES happen. You better believe it. It happens in all races of families as well. White, black, latino, etc, etc, etc. Maybe this is an extreme case, but these extreme cases DO HAPPEN. I know a few people personally with horrid stories and childhoods that you would never believe. One of my friends was raped by her father, her mothers boyfriend and her uncle. She literally lived in filth. I use to visit her and her home was disgusting. The mother was severely manic depressive. The father was in jail for 20 years and promise to kill his whole family, which included his kids when he got out. So thats one person that I know right there and I know many others through out my life. So, I'm sure this movie helped someone. I myself can never watch it again. I was sexually abused as a child and it gives me waaaayyyyy too many bad memories and triggers. Its on Oprah channel now, so this is why I commenting. This movie should come with a huge warning label.

  15. I hated that movie. I, too was abused and it brought back every dirty memory. Language was horrible. Wonder why you never saw Monique in any more movie So? Lolol

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