Belfast Telegraph

Friday 6 March 2015

DVD: Precious (15)

Claireece "Precious" Jones (played elegantly by newcomer Gabourey Sidibe) is no ordinary 16-year-old black girl growing up in 1980s Harlem.

Precious is pregnant with her second child by her rapist father. She is also viciously psychologically and physically abused by her mother, portrayed with gasp-inducing vileness by comedian Mo'Nique, who won an Oscar for her performance.

Luckily, an incident at school draws attention to the scarred, severely overweight and illiterate Precious, and she is encouraged to sneak off to special education classes. With the help of an angelic teacher and stereotyped classmates, who at least offer comic relief, she begins to find herself.

However, despite the motivational posters that pop up the background, to be expected from a film co-produced by talk-show queen Oprah, this is not a Cinderella story.

In roles that could easily have tainted the film with deluded celebrity attempts to bring "real life" to the screen, Mariah Carey's bling-free portrayal of Precious's badass social worker is surprisingly skilful, and Lenny Kravitz manages to contribute more than just cameo eye-candy.

Directed by Monster's Ball producer Lee Daniels, and adapted from the bestselling novel by poet 'Sapphire', Precious does not fully get to grips with the prejudices of poverty, race and obesity that it raises, and some critics say, sadly upholds. But as a tale of one girl's tragic life – it is raw, powerful and extraordinarily touching.

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