You can always tell who the people are who saw Precious as they leave the theater. Â Theyâ€™re the ones who are shuffling down the hallways, staring at their feet in a blank look that may or may not have a hint of suicidal thoughts behind it. Â Yikes! Â This movie is almost in the same realm as Requiem for a Dream or American History X in the way that itâ€™s full contact cinema. Â You donâ€™t sit back and enjoy this movie; this movie sits back and kicks your ass. Â But in this case, it doesnâ€™t make it a great movie. Â The story is about a 16-year-old girl named Precious who has one of the most horrible, abusive lives you can possibly think of. Â Go ahead and think of something horrible you can do to a human being; chances are that happens to Precious. Â The title role is played wonderfully by a young newcomer named Gabourey Sidibe. Â Her vulnerability is admirable as sheâ€™s the opposite of every single leading actress in Hollywood, yet she carries herself with a confidence that most donâ€™t. Â There are also some shockingly great performances from Lenny Kravitz and Mariah Careyâ€¦yeah, THE Kravitz and Carey. Â You probably wonâ€™t recognize them thoughâ€“unless theyâ€™re pointed out to youâ€“due to weight gain, lack of make up and a killer accent on Carey. Â Sherry Shepard (30 Rock, The View) also shows up in a near disguise performance as well. Â The real star of the film, however, is Moâ€™Niqueâ€¦comedian Moâ€™Nique. Â Never did I ever think that I would say the sentence â€śMoâ€™Nique should win an Oscar,â€ť but here I am saying it. Â She gives one of the best performances of the year, and possibly of the last decade, from a woman. Â Her entire role is disturbing all the way up to the climax of the film where Moâ€™Nique treats us to one of the most heartbreaking and soul-wrenching monologues Iâ€™ve ever seen. Â Moâ€™Nique, who is a victim of childhood sexual abuse herself, had to dig so deep for that scene I have the feeling that it was purely cathartic, making the tears from the other actors painfully real. Â If Moâ€™Nique doesnâ€™t win an Oscar for this performance there should be a public outcry over it. Â I think another Oscar might go to director Lee Daniels (Monsterâ€™s Ball). Â His approach to such a dark story is almost whimsical at times while keeping it gritty and painful. Â He does let you off the hook with some of the more disturbing scenes by cutting away just in timeâ€¦thankfully. Â His directing choices remind me almost of Oliver Stone in the way he edits, zooms, goes to fantasy scenes and even uses colors. Â But all this said, the movie isnâ€™t great. Â The performances are. Â The directing is. Â But not the movie. Â Iâ€™m trying to find meaning in the story. Â I get that itâ€™s meant to be inspirational and that even when this girl was beaten down as far as she was, she still picked herself up to move forward. Â But does that work on me? Â Itâ€™s interesting that the theater was packed when I saw it and it was all by white people. Â African Americans are not flocking to see Precious. Â Instead, itâ€™s being seen by the white, suburban, Art House crowd, like me, and itâ€™s not filling me with inspiration. Â In fact, all it did was make me feel sorry for people like Precious, and I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s the movieâ€™s intention. Â I can gain some inspiration from the drive to keep moving forward no matter what; but it still comes from a place of pity because I canâ€™t identify with any of her problems. Â Because of that, I think this is becoming a movie that everyone thinks they HAVE to like, while losing sight of the fact that some films can offer you great elements without a win overall.
Precious: Based on the Novel â€śPushâ€ť by Sapphire (Rated R)Gavin Grade: B+