Friday, November 27, 2009

Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire - Movie Review

Precious (R) 109 minutes B+
The miseducation of Claireece "Precious" Jones

Starring Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe, Paula Patton, Mo'Nique, Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd, and Lenny Kravitz

Claireece "Precious" Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) is young, black, illiterate and obese. At 16 years old she is pregnant for the second time by her father... and that's just the beginning of her problems.

This is the most heartbreaking film of the year but don't let that detour you from seeing two of the best acting performances (Sidibe and Mo'Nique) of 2009. The adversity here is relentless and for the first half hour of the film I thought it might be too much too fast for the audience to digest.

But sometimes life comes at you hard, and as Precious cautiously began to reveal her character, I began to lose myself in her gravity. This is a reality no one deserves but the film reminds us that there's a hellacious world outside the scope of our daily lives.

Bonus DVD Review
Towelhead (R) 124 minutes B+
Fear, loathing and hormones: A coming of age story for a Lebanese teen in Texas

DVD release date: December 30, 2008
Starring Aaron Eckhart, Toni Collette, Maria Bello, Peter Macdissi and Summer Bishil

Towelhead is a film based on the Alicia Erian novel of the same name, and much like the aforementioned film review of Precious its focus is a troubled young girl.

Directed by Oscar winner Alan Ball (screenwriter, American Beauty) the film blurs the line between a brilliantly played awkwardness and unintentional bad acting. Regardless, I found it jaw-dropping and intriguing; raising eyebrows by touching on hot button issues of racism, war, teen sex and rape (set in the suburbs of Texas during the first Gulf War).

It's the type of film that initially infuriates the viewer because characters make the obvious bad decisions while coming off as unlikable and disconnected. But as the film unfolds over the course of two hours these flaws (in the characters and the film) are overshadowed by a disturbing seduction that's as curious as a train wreck.

Although the dialogue is a little contrived at times, the relentless melodrama kept me on the edge of my seat. The film features two of my favorite actresses (Bello and Collette) but the real star is Summer Bishil whose performances earned her an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Lead Actress.

I recommend seeking this out on DVD and/or reading the novel. But note, at one point this film was alternatively titled Nothing is Private.


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