Fine Acting, Superior Filmmaking in Adaptation of Sapphire's Novel
The movie Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009) should be seen for the brilliant performances by Mo'Nique and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe. Both actresses received Academy Award nominations they for their work here, and Mo'Nique's perfomance won a richly deserved Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The film is an extremely well-crafted production that received four additional Oscar nods, including Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.
The information that might best prepare you as to what to expect from Precious is that Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry are executive producers. Although it's a gritty inner-city drama, it's done in a way that doesn't punish the audience.
The story is set in 1987 Harlem, and the main character is an obese teenage African-American girl named Precious Jones (Sidibe). She is constantly emotionally abused by her mom (unforgettably played by Mo’Nique as the mother from hell). Having sex with her father for years has left Precious with one child with Down syndrome, and she is again pregnant. Furthermore, Precious is illiterate, but she gets into a special program that gradually makes headway with that problem. Positive influences in her life include her teacher (Paula Patton) and a welfare worker (Mariah Carey). Men are nearly totally absent from the movie.
The strong performances by the actresses and the artfulness of the filmmaking are almost enough to make us not notice that the characters lack multidimensionality. At heart, Precious is a straightforward, earnest social-problem film, albeit one that is well worth seeing.
The Precious DVD provides a total of about 55 minutes of video extras. There's also a feature-length audio commentary by director Lee Daniels that gives quite a bit of behind-the-scenes information.
The 15-minute featurette "From Push to Precious" has Daniels, screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher and author Sapphire discussing adapting the novel to the screen. There's additional discussion of the topic in the eight-minute "A Conversation With Author Sapphire and Director Lee Daniels." The 18-minute "A Precious Ensemble" has actresses Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Mariah Carey and Paula Patton talking about the movie. In the nine-minute "Oprah and Tyler: A Project of Passion," executive producers Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry talk about their involvement in the film. Additional bonus materials include two-and-a-half minutes of Gabourey Sidibe's audition for the role of Precious and the one-and-a-half-minute deleted scene "The Incest Survivor Meeting."
DVD Release Date: March 9, 2010
Feature Film Runtime: 1 hour 49 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Child Abuse Including Sexual Assault, and Pervasive Language