I can’t tell whether or not I liked this movie or if it simply beat me into submission. The heavy-handed tale of extreme suffering comes across like watching somebody get beaten for two hours. WAM! Your father rapes you. WAM! Your mother doesn’t intervene, in fact, she molests you too. WAM! You’re pregnant with your second kid from dear old dad. WAM! You have AIDS. The material is so unrelentingly dark that the constrained happy ending leaves you with feeling wholly naïve. Precious (Oscar-nominee Gabourey Sidibe) goes from having a hellish existence to having a 10% less hellish existence. It’s hard to find any light of hope within. Thank God that the movie is so well-acted all around, from Mo’Nique’s ferocious Oscar-winning turn as Precious’ monstrous mother, to Sidibe’s heart-wrenching portrayal of an abused and ignored soul, to even a makeup-free Mariah Carrey as a no-nonsense social worker (lack of makeup being the universal sign an actress wants to be taken seriously). Director Lee Daniels lays out the melodrama with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. You feel beaten down by the conclusion. I can’t decide if the fantasy sequences Precious flashes to as a coping mechanism are insightful or just embarrassing. I found Precious’ stoicism worth rooting for, but the movie seems to stop short of finding a way to make me care about her as a character rather than a victim. Her role is mostly impassive but she manages to find her character’s dignity, which is what the film asks us to ultimately fight for. By the end, I felt like I was watching an urban equivalent of A Serious Man, only it wasn’t intended for me to laugh at the misery.
Nate’s Grade: B-