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Movie Curiosities

The online diary of an aspiring movie nerd

Precious

ByCuriosity Inc.

Feb 28, 2010

This is a movie about a girl stuck with a poor and broken life who frequently fantasizes about a rich and happy life. The twist here is that she knows the fantasy is impossible, so she’s adapted to her crappy school and her uninhabitable home life. She’s not upset about her lot in life nor is she aspiring to be successful or prettier, she’s just apathetic and resigned. It’s an extremely subtle balance. It’s realistic, impartial and would immediately earn pity from anyone with a beating heart. It totally fucking works. And when Precious finally starts to try and break free from that life, we know as well as she does that there’s no “fairy Godmother,” but we root for her all the same.

A big part of what makes this work is Gabby Sidibe. She was the only actress who could have taken on this role. Her character goes through the entire spectrum of emotional highs and lows, including a few moments that could easily have come off as cliched, but Sidibe worked hard to sell each and every moment. I know she’s not the Hollywood standard, but I dearly hope to see her get more roles, even if she didn’t get the statuette.

Another part of this movie’s success is Mo’Nique. She took on work of a magnitude I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. Her character could easily have been a two-dimensional “evil stepmother,” but Mo’Nique somehow turned herself into a creature simultaneously worthy of hatred and pity in equal measure. A monster who knows that she’s beyond hope or absolution, yet demands to be unconditionally loved and forgiven and cared for, all while refusing to change (or refusing to believe she can).

Then there’s the editing. The editing in this movie is half the story and consistently puts the audience in the headspace of our title character. The movie frequently cut to fantasy sequences during the most depressing scenes, working not only as a coping mechanism for Precious, but for the audience as well. Even outside the fantasy sequences, the folks in the editing booth always knew exactly when to show something, when to hold something back, when to use fancy tricks to show Precious’ frustration and when to cut to black.

This movie is honestly ugly and brutally impartial in a way that makes The Wire look like fucking CSI. You’ve probably heard that it’s “depressing” or “uplifting” and I’d like to tell you now that such one-word labels are stupidly inadequate. Want to know what I mean? The movie ends *with Precious stuck with two kids that she can’t care for. She has no job, no home and all she has to look forward to is a GED and a slow death of AIDS away from both her parents.* Is that a happy ending? I personally don’t think so. Is it better than what she had at the movie’s start? Fuck yes.

This is a powerful and beautifully crafted movie. I don’t think it deserved the Best Picture Oscar, but it absolutely earned the nomination. If you believe in the power of movies as an emotional and enlightening medium, capable of bringing fictional people to life — if only for a little while — then this movie is a must-see.

By Curiosity Inc.

I hold a B.S. in Bioinformatics, the only one from Pacific University's Class of '09. I was the stage-hand-in-chief of my high school drama department and I'm a bass drummer for the Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers. I dabble in video games and I'm still pretty good at DDR. My primary hobby is going online for upcoming movie news. I am a movie buff, a movie nerd, whatever you want to call it. Comic books are another hobby, but I'm not talking about Superman or Spider-Man or those books that number in the triple-digits. I'm talking about Watchmen, Preacher, Sandman, etc. Self-contained, dramatic, intellectual stories that couldn't be accomplished in any other medium. I'm a proud son of Oregon, born and raised here. I've been just about everywhere in North and Central America and I love it right here.

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