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REVIEW | Bold Strokes: Lee Daniels’ “Precious”

REVIEW | Bold Strokes: Lee Daniels' "Precious"

EDITOR’S NOTE: This review was originally published as part of indieWIRE’s coverage of the Sundance Film Festival.

“Precious: Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” is a movie of many textures, each one illuminating the emotionally gripping narrative at its core. Lee Daniels directs with bold strokes that could go wrong at any moment, but generally serve to illuminate a troubled life and the justified desire to escape it. The story of a troubled Harlem teen named Precious (Gabourey Sidibe) impregnated by her absent father, “Precious” progresses with a steadily engaging series of starts and stops in the frayed world of its talented star. While fending off her dysfunctional mother (Monique, in a stunningly psychotic turn), Precious gradually learns to surpass her aimless fantasies and come to grips with the troubles at hand. Using lavishly photographed sequences, Daniels contrasts Precious’s daily woes with the happier existence inside her head, but these moments gradually give way to the protagonist’s fulfillment of her actual goals.

Moved to an alternative school to meet her special needs, Precious learns from more caring adults (including Mariah Carey as a trenchant social worker) about her obvious potential to mature. A spunky character with an increasing ability to editorialize about her new environment (“they talk like TV channels I don’t watch,” she says of her newfound mentors), Precious makes the ideal heroine of modern times. “Precious” does not function exclusively as a story of race, but as a universal depiction of real world struggle. The only question is whether distributors can push themselves to get it out there.

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@milesmaker While I won’t try to dissuade you of your reaction to my review, I would like to allay your suspicion that I did not see this film. In fact, I filed the review immediately after seeing PRECIOUS (then titled PUSH) at its Sundance premiere. Since then, I have seen it a second time and written a few additional thoughts here:

Very truly yours,

Peter Knegt

indieWIRE always repurposes reviews from film festivals when a film receives theatrical release. Though I understand that the final sentence makes no sense in today’s context, we expected readers to take in the review with the understanding that it had been first published at Sundance, as noted in the first sentence of the article. We felt removing the sentence would take away from what was intended with the review. Our apologies for any frustration.


This review is horrible. Did Eric actually WATCH the movie?



meaning, I agree with the poster named brant, not the clearly outdated final sentence of the “review.” A new york times magazine cover is what most would consider “out there.”


i second that


This review is too short and needs revision if you’re going to re-run it from Sundance last year. iW Editors: Are you aware that the last sentence is: “The only question is whether distributors can push themselves to get it out there.”?

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