Thursday, 18 February 2010

A Precious tale of Hollywood's underworld

Last month saw the release of Precious, a story of real-life, down and dirty hardship that Hollywood so often ignores. Based on the novel, Push by Sapphire, director Lee Daniels brings to the screen a tale so moving and thought-provoking that even after the credits roll, it will not leave you for hours.

Set in the 1980s Harlem, New York, the film follows the heart-wrenching story of illiterate Claireese Precious Jones, a 16 year old who is physically and emotionally abused by her mother, in almost slave-like natures and sexually abused by her drug-addict father by whom she has had two children. Precious is suspended from school for being pregnant with her father’s child and sent to attend an alternative school where she meets teacher Blu Rain (Paula Patton) who helps her tell her story and outrun the tortures of her home life.

The plot is something that cannot easily be ignored. The shocking nature of the story is something which both awes and disgusts audiences. Precious can be described as rough, emotive, unsettling and heart-rending, but the most prominent part of the film is the ray of hope that it exudes. Precious takes you on a journey, a tough journey of love, hate, depression, shock, anger and disbelief. Hope is what brings the film to life. Young ladies who watch this film will no doubt be moved and inspired by the life and profound determination of its lead character.

New star, Gabourey “Gabby” Sedibe debuts her acting career as the lead role in this film, which was first shown at the Sundance Festival. Sedibe embodies the emotional conflict of her character exceptionally. A career defining role, Sedibe may find it difficult to outshine herself from this role, to most audiences she will remain as Precious.

The best thing about Sedibe is her innate ability to slide into the role of Precious without any compatibility problems and without any awkwardness from the first scene in. Sedibe tells the story of Precious, with included voice over narration, in such a captivating way that it leaves trails of sentiment after each subtly empowering monologue scene.

Critics have accused Precious of ‘ramming ideas of hardships of this culture and lifestyle down the audience’s throat’, but Precious is a wake-up call to those Hollywood happy-go-lucky tales of high-flying, high-wage lifestyles which too often grace our screens. It is the tale of life on the other side of the rainbow.

Showing in cinemas from 29 January, Precious shines new light on some famous faces. Executive directed by Oprah Winfrey, roles in the film are played by comedienne and talk-show host Mo’Nique, who plays Precious’ abusive mother, Mariah Carey (who looks decidedly plain), playing a social worker who helps Precious talk about her story, and Lenny Kravitz who plays a very small role as a nurse.

Mo’Nique delivers a performance that allows her humour-ridden background to fade away. She plays the good-for-nothing mother,who admittedly hates her daughter, Precious,  for having sex with her husband. Mo’Nique’s performance is seamless and characterized wonderfully into a character who the audience innately loathe from take one.

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