Wednesday, December 16, 2009

PRECIOUS



I've been surprised to hear some of the criticism directed at this movie, which I thought was very fine and largely managed to veer from sentimentality or from elevating the heroine into something more than she is. The acting was extraordinary, the setting realistic, the story compelling if excruciating at points.


One criticism I heard was that the movie was episodic, lacking an arc. If ever a series of episodes built an arc, this was it. What saved me from bawling my way through it, was a scene the wise director inserted early on, where it becomes clear that Precious has the strength of both character and physicality to deal with the world. A classmate jeers at her beloved math teacher and she knocks him on his ass. I loved her from that moment on. Another criticism being aired is that the white or lighter people in the film are responsible for Precious's eventual successes.
I think Precious saved herself (much like the girl in AN EDUCATION) and she was the darkest skinned person in the movie.
Anybody seen it? What other movies do you think were criticized unfairly of late?

11 comments:

Todd Mason said...

Yes...but all the other villains of the film, say the detractors, are also dark. I will probably give it a chance eventually.

Most unfairly dismissed film of late...hmm. I'm not seeing enough of late to say, and I've seen more overpraised films when I have (such as the goofy MOON and the impossible to underrate WANTED). Will mull.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Well, almost everyone in the film is African-American. And the only real villain is her mother. The rest are fleeting. It has a positive take on teachers, social workers, male nurses, other kids for the most part.

Todd Mason said...

Not to beat this into the ground (particularly since I haven't seen it), but the color-coding within the African-American comunity is something that the detractors are suggesting is perpetuated...that the the lighter, more European ancestors or more Arab ones one has (say, being of Ethiopian and Somali as distinct from Central/West African descent), the "better" one has been perceived as being, for various institutionally racist reasons...and that, certainly, is a drag.

The father isn't much in the picture, literally? He certainly seems another major villain. Not to give too much away.

George said...

Your review has moved PRECIOUS into the SEE REAL SOON column for me, Patti. I'll try to get to see it this weekend and I'll let you know what I think. My students have been enthusiastic about PRECIOUS, too.

pattinase (abbott) said...

There is one scene with her father-a very nasty one.
George-I think any teacher will like it because it really points out what good teachers can do-if allowed.
Precious herself wishes to be lighter, to have a light-skinned boyfriend, etc. I think this thinking reflects how living in a white society skews "color" for many people of color. For her to wish this seems realistic rather than racist to me. Why wouldn't she want to be the dominant, easier, more valued color? It is sickening to hear her voice this repeatedly, but it was real.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Thanks for bringing up Precious. I've actually read some very fine reviews of the film, and especially of the lead actress. I haven't honestly seen a lot of movies lately, but I intend to see this one; it's got a haunting storyline, and it's just got me intrigued...

Todd Mason said...

That wasn't the problem the detractors had, Patti, that Precious wants to be white, but that the good people among the principal adult characters were pale...at least that was the arguemt I heard and read from several sources (I certainly noted that that's how it looked in the trailer). That's the kind of thing that helps perpetuate the self-abnegating desire on Precious's part to be pale. As one of those critics noted, as I've noted in another comment earlier, in the novel, the teacher is dark-complected and wears dreads...I still think that would've been a good thing to reflect in the film, even if Paula Patton wouldn't have the role.

wv: damblyme

Todd Mason said...

On Precious's part, and on the part of real girls and boys.

Todd Mason said...

Unfairly dismissed or underrated: BEAUTIFUL CREATURES (not so very new) and LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN (slight less old).

Perplexio said...

I wasn't too keen on your criticism of Australia in the comments for your more recent posting. The cinematography was beautiful, the story was enjoyable, and in the end I thoroughly enjoyed it. But to each his/her own.

I've heard some of the criticisms, that the movie perpetuated negative stereotypes about Australians. I disagree. It showed those stereotypes at the very beginning and throughout the rest of the movie gave the characters far more depth.

I will say as far as movies set in Australia, about Australians, or featuring Australians it's not the best movie I've seen. But it was still enjoyable.

corvedacosta said...

i loved it