CATEGORIES Reviews
Critics are offering mostly raves for 'Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire,' a harrowing story about a young Harlem teenager who is pregnant for the second time by her drug-addicted father and also suffers abuse at the hands of her cruel mother.

It wowed audiences at this year's Sundance festival in January, where it won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize, and a Special Jury Prize for comedian Mo'Nique in her first dramatic role. The film is being called "inspiring," "powerful," "potent and moving," and "courageous and uncompromising." You may have heard that it's the film in which a nearly unrecognizable Mariah Carey (playing a social worker) finally earns some respect as an actress. Most likely, it has come to your attention because it's presented by media powerhouses Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry.

A few vocal opponents, however, such as Armond White of the New York Press, are decrying the film as "brazenly racist." He's not alone: Since it was snubbed at this year's Gotham Awards, there's been talk of a backlash against the film because of Winfrey's backing.

See what critics are saying after the jump. Critics are offering mostly raves for 'Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire,' a harrowing story about a young Harlem teenager who is pregnant for the second time by her drug-addicted father and also suffers abuse at the hands of her cruel mother.

It wowed audiences at this year's Sundance festival in January, where it won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize, and a Special Jury Prize for comedian Mo'Nique in her first dramatic role. The film is being called "inspiring," "powerful," "potent and moving," and "courageous and uncompromising." You may have heard that it's the film in which a nearly unrecognizable Mariah Carey (playing a social worker) finally earns some respect as an actress. Most likely, it has come to your attention because it's presented by media powerhouses Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry.

A few vocal opponents, however, such as Armond White of the New York Press, are decrying the film as "brazenly racist." He's not alone: Since it was snubbed at this year's Gotham Awards, there's been talk of a backlash against the film because of Winfrey's backing.

See what critics are saying below.

Roger Ebert: "A great American film that somehow finds an authentic way to move from [bleak] beginnings to an inspiring ending. Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe, a young actress in her debut performance ... is heartbreaking as Precious. Three other actresses [Mo'Nique, Paula Patton and Mariah Carey] perform so powerfully in the film that academy voters will be hard-pressed to choose among them."

Entertainment Weekly: "Sometimes, a movie has to take you down - and I mean down, really far - to lift you up. 'Precious' is that kind of movie ... harrowing to behold, but it's also as indelible as something out of Tennessee Williams. In her first dramatic role, the comedian Mo'Nique acts with such force that she burns a hole in the screen... The final scene of revelation between [mother and daughter] will leave you tearful, shaken, dazed with pity and terror. ... A potent and moving experience."



Variety: "'Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire' is like a diamond -- clear, bright, but oh so hard. To simply call it harrowing or unsparing doesn't quite cut it; 'Precious' is also courageous and uncompromising... Mo'Nique is utterly brilliant. Among the many delightful surprises in the film is Mariah Carey, who is pitch-perfect ... It's possible that many viewers won't recognize her until the final credits, but like so many things about 'Precious,' the performance is disarming."

The Hollywood Reporter: "'Precious' is a disturbing, overwhelming story of one Harlem girl's merciless degradations... an overwhelming, masterful dramatic film ... As Precious, Sidibe is superb, allowing us to see the inner warmth and beauty of a young woman who, to her world's cruel eyes, might seem monstrous. As Precious' hideous mother, Mo'Nique is cruelty incarnate. It's an astonishingly powerful performance. In a striking non-star turn, Mariah Carey is credible ... Paula Patton exudes goodness but sagely reveals her character's inner liabilities, while Lenny Kravitz is low-key perfect as an empathetic nurse's aide."

New York Press: "Shame on Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey for signing on as air-quote executive producers of 'Precious' ... Not since 'The Birth of a Nation' has a mainstream movie demeaned the idea of black American life as much as 'Precious.' Full of brazenly racist cliches ... it is a sociological horror show, racist hysteria masquerading as social sensitivity ... Sidibe and Mo'Nique give two-note performances: dumb and innocent, crazy and evil. Monique's do-rag doesn't convey depths within herself, nor does Mariah Carey's fright wig."

New York Magazine: "[Director Lee] Daniels does everything to hold the melodrama at bay, but there's only so much he can do. The comedian Mo'Nique gives a vivid and surprisingly varied performance as Precious's mother, Mary ... The most offbeat touch is a social worker played by Mariah Carey. She's a tad too goody-goody, but her toasty, caressing voice is a gift beside Sidibe's mush-mouthed monosyllables ... The elements of 'Precious' are powerful and shocking, but the movie is programmed."