Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire: Wikis

  

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Precious:
Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Lee Daniels
Produced by Lee Daniels
Oprah Winfrey
Tom Heller
Tyler Perry
Lisa Cortes
Sarah Siegel-Magness
Valerie Hoffman
Asger Hussain
Gary Magness
Mark G. Magges
Berrgen Swason
Simone Sheffield
Written by Geoffrey S. Fletcher
(Screenplay)
Sapphire
(Novel)
Starring Gabourey Sidibe
Mo'Nique
Paula Patton
Mariah Carey
Lenny Kravitz
Sherri Shepherd
Music by Mario Grigorov
Cinematography Andrew Dunn
Darren Lew
Editing by Joe Klotz
Studio Lee Daniels Entertainment
Smokewood Entertainment Group
Distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment
Release date(s) January 15, 2009 (2009-01-15)
(Sundance)
02009-11-06 November 6, 2009
Running time 110 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million[1]
Gross revenue $50,867,591[1]

Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire is a 2009 American drama film directed by Lee Daniels. Precious is an adaptation by Geoffrey S. Fletcher of the 1996 novel Push by Sapphire. The film's mainly female cast features Gabourey Sidibe as the title character, with Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz in supporting roles. The film marked the acting debut of Sidibe.

The film, then without a distributor, premiered to acclaim at both the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, under its original title of Push: Based On The Novel By Sapphire.[2] At Sundance, it won the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize for best drama, as well as a Special Jury Prize for supporting actress Mo'Nique.[3] After Precious's screening at Sundance in February 2009, Tyler Perry announced that he and Oprah Winfrey would be providing promotional assistance to the film, which was released through Lions Gate Entertainment. Precious won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. The film's title was changed from Push to Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, to avoid confusion with the 2009 action film Push.[4]

Lions Gate gave the film a limited release in North America on November 6, 2009 (the release was expanded on November 20). Precious received largely positive reviews from critics: the acting, the story, and its message were generally praised. Some criticism mainly aimed at fears of the film's content sending a negative message; some reviewers felt that the film did not live up to its hype. In the film's opening weekend in limited release, it grossed $1.8 million, putting it in 12th place at the box office. The film, as of February 2010, has made over $50.8 million, recouping its $10 million budget.[1] Precious received six nominations, including Best Picture, for the 82nd Academy Awards. Supporting actress Mo'Nique and screenwriter Geoffrey S. Fletcher were selected as the winners in their respective categories.

Contents

Plot

In 1987, obese, illiterate, African American 16-year-old Claireece Precious Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) lives in Harlem with her dysfunctional mother, Mary (Mo'Nique). She has been impregnated twice by her father, Carl, and suffers long term physical, mental and sexual abuse from her unemployed mother. The family resides in a Section 8 tenement and subsists on welfare. Her first child, known only as "Mongo" (short for "Mongoloid"), has Down syndrome and is being cared for by Precious's grandmother.

Following the discovery of Precious's second pregnancy, she is suspended from school. Her junior high school principal arranges to have her attend an alternative school, which she hopes can help Precious change her life's direction. Precious finds a way out of her traumatic daily existence through imagination and fantasy. While she is being raped by her father, she looks at the ceiling and imagines herself in a music video shoot in which she is the superstar and the focus of attention. While looking in photograph albums, she imagines the pictures talking to her. When she looks in the mirror, she sees a pretty, white, thin, blonde girl. In her mind there is another world where she is loved and appreciated.

Inspired by her new teacher Miss Blu Rain (Paula Patton), Precious begins learning to read. Precious meets sporadically with a social worker named Miss Weiss (Mariah Carey), who learns about incest in the household when Precious unwittingly conveys it to her. Precious gives birth to her second child and names him Abdul. While at the hospital, she meets John McFadden (Lenny Kravitz), a nurse who shows kindness to her. After Mary deliberately drops three-day-old Abdul and hits Precious, Precious fights back long enough to get her son and flees her home permanently. Shortly after leaving the house, Precious breaks into her school classroom to get out of the cold and is discovered the following morning by Miss Rain. The teacher finds assistance for Precious, who begins raising her son in a halfway house while she continues academically.

Feeling dejected, Precious meets Miss Weiss at her office and steals her case file. Precious recounts the details of the file to her fellow students and has a new lease on life. Her mother comes back into her life to inform Precious that her father has died of AIDS. Later, Precious learns that she is HIV positive, but Abdul is not. Mary and Precious see each other for the last time in Miss Weiss's office, where Weiss questions Mary about her abuse of Precious, and uncovers specific traumas Precious encountered. The film ends with Precious still resolved to improve her life for herself and her children. She severs ties with her mother and plans to complete a General Educational Development test.

Cast

A light haired medium skin colored female smiling. The female has long hair and is wearing a white sleeved shirt that is slightly un-buttoned at the top.
Carey at the premiere of Tennessee in 2008. Daniels stated he cast her in the role of Mrs. Weiss based on her performance in that film.

In September 2007, 24-year-old Gabourey Sidibe was cast as Claireece Precious Jones. She was chosen out of over 300 young girls who auditioned in casting calls around the country.[5] At the time of casting, Sidibe had no acting experience.[6]

Mariah Carey was cast as Ms. Weiss, Precious's social worker who supports her during her struggles. In September 2008,[7][8] Carey described her character as “not really a likable person, but she does bring this to the surface".[8][9] Carey and Daniels had previously worked together on Tennessee.[5] Daniels said that he cast Carey because he was "so impressed" by her performance in Tennessee.[7] Sapphire (the author of the novel) makes a cameo appearance as a woman at a day care center near the end of the film.[10] According to director Daniels, Helen Mirren was originally set to play the part of Ms. Weiss, but obtained a role in a "bigger project".[11]

Paula Patton was cast as Ms. Blu Rain, Precious's alternative school teacher.[12] Patton said that her character teaches Precious to "learn and read and write from the very beginnings, and pushes her to believe in herself, and pushes her to realize that anything is possible."[12] Mo'Nique was cast as Mary Lee Johnston, Precious's mother, who is verbally and physically abusive.[6] Mo'Nique and Daniels had previously worked together on the 2005 film Shadowboxer. Bill Sage was cast as Mr. Wicher. Sage had co-starred with Carey in Glitter, as well as previously working with Daniels on Tennessee.[5] Robert De Niro's wife Grace Hightower was cast as a social worker;[10] her role in the film marks her first acting role and film debut.[13]

In October 2007, Stephanie Andujar, 23, was cast as Rita, a 16-year-old former heroin addict and prostitute, who attends the same alternative school in Harlem as Precious and later befriends her.[14] During Andujar's audition, Daniels was so impressed that he interrupted her dialogue and stated, "I want you in my movie."[14] Lenny Kravitz was cast as John McFadden, a nurse who shows kindness to Precious.[5][7] This film is Kravitz's feature film acting debut.[5]

Production

An apartment building complex with multiple square windows that are right beside fire escapes. In front of the building are six cars, of different colors, and a street.
Precious was filmed on location in various parts of New York City, including the film's main setting Harlem, for the period of over five weeks.

Precious was directed by Lee Daniels and co-produced by Daniels' company, Lee Daniels Entertainment, and the Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness-owned Smokewood Entertainment Group.[15] The two production companies had previously collaborated with Daniels on Tennessee (2008).[15] Precious had, in total, twelve producers: Daniels, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Heller, director and screenwriter Tyler Perry, Lisa Cortes, Gary Magness, Valerie Hoffman, Asger Hussain, Mark G. Magges, Berrgen Swason, Simone Sheffield and Sarah Siegel-Magness.[16] In September, 2007, Carey confirmed that the film's writer, Barsocchini, was still working on the script, which was in its early stages.[7] Principal photography (filming) for the film took place on location in various parts of New York City.[17] The production budget was $10 million.[1]

After Precious was screened at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in January, it was picked up for distribution by Lions Gate Entertainment and received promotional assistance from Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions and Tyler Perry's 34th Street Films.[18] Precious was the first theatrical film to be affiliated with Perry's company.[19] In February 2009, Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company filed lawsuits contesting ownership of the rights to release Precious.[20] Both companies claim that they had purchased distribution rights to Precious: The Weinstein Company claimed that they had "secured" their rights while Lionsgate stated that they owned the rights to the film's distribution in North America.[20] Precious' sales agent Cinetic Media denied Weinstein's claims, stating that they failed to finalize the deal.[20]

Music

Composer Robin Thicke wrote and produced "Push", the film's original main theme music.[21] Later announcements confirmed that the song would be replaced by Mary J. Blige's "I Can See In Color".[22] Leona Lewis' song, "Happy" (from her album Echo) is featured in the film's trailer.[23] Daniels stated that the artists featured on the film's soundtrack were selected because they "resonate not only in Precious's world, but speak to your soul no matter who you are".[24] Two other songs, performed decades earlier by Queen Latifah and Mahalia Jackson, were also chosen for the film's soundtrack.[24] The soundtrack features LaBelle, Donna Allen, Jean Carn, Sunny Gale, and MFSB.[22]

Lionsgate, in association with Matriarch/Geffen Records released the soundtrack online as a digital download on November 3, 2009,[25] and in stores on November 23.[22][24] Daniels confirmed that there are plans to release Blige's "I Can See in Color" as a single from the soundtrack.[24] The song was written by Blige, Raphael Saadiq and LaNeah Menzies and is produced by Raphael Saadiq.[25] People Magazine Daily noted that the film "mainly had a music supervised soundtrack, but not much of a score, so there were popular songs placed in the movie."[26] Peter Travers, of Rolling Stone, described the song "I Can See In Color" as being "...a knockout song...expressing the goal of Precious to see the world in color."[22][27]

Release

Marketing

A dark skinned man with a black afro. The man is smiling and is wearing a dark green button shirt wide open on top of a buttoned up turquoise shirt.
The film's director, Lee Daniels, said that he was, at first, "embarrassed" to screen Precious at the Cannes Film Festival because he felt that it would show African-Americans in a negative light, due to its content.[28]

Precious was screened during the 2009 Sundance Film Festival from January 15, 2009, until January 25 in Park City, Utah.[29] At Sundance, Precious was listed under its original title of Push: Based On The Novel By Sapphire, however the title was later altered to avoid confusion with another 2009 film entitled Push.[2] Precious appeared in the Un Certain Regard - an award section recognising unique and innovative films, at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival in May, 2009.[30] At Cannes, the film received a fifteen-minute standing ovation from the audience after the film was screened.[28] Daniels commented that, at first he was "embarrassed" to show Precious at Cannes because he did not want "to exploit black people" and wasn’t sure if he "wanted white French people to see our world."[28] After the success at Precious's screenings at Sundance, reporters took note that the film could mirror the success of other films that had been screened and praised at the festival.[19][31] S. James Snyder, of Time, compared Precious's success at Sundance to that of 2008's The Wrestler and Slumdog Millionaire; both films later were nominated for multiple Academy Awards, and Slumdog itself won Best Picture at the 81st Annual Academy Awards.[19]

Winfrey used her status as both a celebrity and a media personality to give the film, what was described by Ben Child of the Guardian.co.uk, as being a "high-profile promotional push".[19][32] At a press conference Winfrey announced her intention to lead a promotional campaign on behalf of Precious along with her other various platforms, hoping to be able to "bring in different audiences" by promoting the film on her show, in her magazine and on her satellite-radio channel.[19] Katie Walmsley of CNN remarked, based on the film's positive reception at the Toronto Film Festival, that the film "at the very least, [because of] the [Toronto] award will guarantee "Precious" substantial distribution, as well as exposure for two-time director Daniels."[31] The trailer for Precious was shown during previews of the film's producer Perry's film I Can Do Bad All By Myself in September 2009.[33]

Box office

Precious was given a limited-theatrical release on November 6th, 2009 and was originally scheduled to appear on screens only in North America. Due to the mature subject matter of the film, it was rated "R" by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in the United States, specifically for graphic depiction of "child abuse including sexual assault, and pervasive language".[34] During its opening weekend, the film earned $1,872,458, which placed twelfth on that weekend's box office list, despite only showing on 18 theaters.[1][35] The film saw a 213.7% increase in its second week of release, earning $5,874,628 at 174 theaters, which catapulted it up to third place in that weekend's box office, with a per-theater average of $33,762.[1] On November 20, 2009, the film received a wider release, showing at 629 theaters (thus tripling the number of theaters showing the film).[1] In its third week, Precious, as studios had previously estimated, placed sixth at the box office, [1] with the revenues estimated 11,008,000 - an 87.4% increase from the previous week.[1]

After riding that three week wave of success, Precious began to see a decrease in box office earnings. However, the film holds the record as the highest grossing picture to open in fewer than 100 theaters and holds the record for the highest grossing average per screen for films shown in fewer than 50 theaters.[36] Brandon Grey of Box Office Mojo described Precious as having had a "robust expansion" in its second week of release, and he confirmed that the film holds the record for having the second-highest grossing weekend for a movie playing at fewer than 200 sites, behind only Paranormal Activity.[37] Precious grossed a total of $40,320,285 in over six weeks of release.[1] The film opened at ninth place in the United Kingdom, with revenues totaling £259,000 in its opening weekend from limited release of 47 cinemas, generating a £5,552 screen average.[38]

Reception

Critical reception

Precious received mostly positive reviews from film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 91% of 162 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 7.9 out of 10.[39] Among Rotten Tomatoes' "Top Critics", which consists of popular and notable critics from the top newspapers, websites, television and radio programs, the film holds an overall approval rating of 91%, based on a sample of 32 reviews.The site's general consensus is that "Precious is a grim yet ultimately triumphant film about abuse and inner-city life, largely bolstered by exceptional performances from its cast."[40] Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from film critics, has a rating score of 79 based on 35 reviews.[41]

John Anderson, of Variety, said "to simply call it harrowing or unsparing doesn’t quite cut it" having felt that the film is "courageous and uncompromising, a shaken cocktail of debasement and elation, despair and hope."[42] Anderson cited Carey's performance as "pitch perfect" and Patton's role as Ms. Blu Rain as disarming."[42] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly, praised Carey's performance, describing it as having been "an authentically deglammed compassion" and praised the film for 'capturing' "how a lost girl rouses herself from the dead" and for Daniels' showing "unflinching courage as a filmmaker by going this deep into the pathologies that may still linger in the closets of some impoverished inner-city lives."[43] Gleiberman described the film as being a movie "that makes you think, 'There but for the grace of God go I.' [...] It's a potent and moving experience, because by the end you feel you've witnessed nothing less than the birth of a soul" and felt that the "final scene of revelation" between Sidibe's and Mo'Nique's characters was strong enough to be able to leave viewers "tearful, shaken, [and] dazed with pity and terror."[43]

Roger Ebert, of the Chicago Sun-Times, praised Mo'Nique and Sidibe's performances.[44] Ebert described Mo'Nique's performance as being "frighteningly convincing" and felt that "the film is a tribute to Sidibe's ability to engage our empathy" because she "completely creates the Precious character." He noted that Carey and Patton "are equal with Sidibe in screen impact".[44] Ebert praised Daniels because rather than casting the actors for their names, "he was able to see beneath the surface and trust that they had within the emotional resources to play these women, and he was right."[44] Betsey Sharkey, of the Los Angeles Times describes the film as being a "rough-cut diamond... [A] rare blend of pure entertainment and dark social commentary, it is a shockingly raw, surprisingly irreverent and absolutely unforgettable story."[45] Claudia Puig, of USA Today says that while there are "melodramatic moments" in the film, the cast gives "remarkable performances" to show the audiences the film's "inspiring message."[46] Peter Travers, of Rolling Stone called Mo'Nique "dynamite", a performance that "tears at your heart."[27]

Mary Pols, of Time praised the film's sequences for being able to show the audience a "joyous Wizard of Oz energy" that is able to "open the door into Precious's mind in a way even [the author] Sapphire couldn't."[47] Pols felt that, while not implying that the film has "a lack of compelling emotional material" but that the film's "few weak moments" are the "ones that dovetail with typical inspirational stories."[47] Marshall Fine, of Huffington Post, referred to the film as being "almost a deal-breaker for many filmgoers".[48] Fine praised the film as being "a film that doesn't shy away from the depths to which human beings can sink, but it also shows the strength and resilience of which we are capable, even at our lowest moments."[48] Scott Mendelson, also of the Huffington Post, felt that when you put the "glaring issues aside," the film "still works as a potent character study and a glimpse inside a world we'd rather pretend does not exist in America." But while the film "succeeds as a powerful acting treat and a potent character study, there are some major narrative issues that prevent the film from being an accidental masterpiece."[49] Mendelson described the film as being "an acting powerhouse" based on its many emotional themes.[49]

Veteran critic Jack Mathews wrote, “Without being familiar with the source material, you really have no idea how much work went into the adaptation or how well it was done.... 'Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire'...First-time screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher did yeoman's work turning Sapphire's graphic, idiomatic novel into a coherent and inspiring story about the journey of an abused Harlem teenager.”"[50] Owen Gleiberman's “'Precious' Displays Power of Film” (Entertainment Weekly) identifies how Daniels uses one of the rich scenes created by Fletcher to position Mo’nique in a painful confrontation with Sidibe that results in masterful and thought-provoking performance that delivers the final push needed by Sidibe: “The more Precious tries to get away from her mother, the more she's pulled back, and the final scene of revelation between them will leave you tearful, shaken, dazed with pity and terror. 'Precious' is a film that makes you think, 'There but for the grace of God go I.' It's a potent and moving experience, because by the end you feel you've witnessed nothing less than the birth of a soul.”[51]

Precious has also received some negative responses from critics. In two separate articles, The New York Times cited Armond White, critic for The New York Press as initiating the most powerful negative review. White compared the film to The Birth of A Nation as "demeaning the idea of black American life"[52] and as the "con job of the year." Courtland Milloy, of The Washington Post said Precious was "a film of prurient interest that has about as much redeeming social value as a porn flick."[53] David Edelstein, of New York Magazine, commented that while the film has "elements" that are "powerful and shocking", he felt the movie was "programmed" and that the film had "its own study guide."[54] Keith Uhlich, of Time Out New York, felt that the film did not live-up to its "long hype", and felt that it was "bewildering" to discover the film's praise at the Sundance Film Festival because Uhlich characterized the film as having "shrug-worthiness."[55] Dana Stevens of Slate felt that the film's "eagerness" to "drag" the audience "through the lower depths of human experience" leaves the audience with no space to be able to come to their own "conclusions."[56] Stevens noted that while the film is about improvement and self-actualization, "it wields an awfully large cudgel."[56] Peter Bradshaw wrote for The Guardian that the film catalogues a "horrendous, unending nightmare of abuse" and then abruptly turns into an episode of Fame.[57] Sukhdev Sandhu said in The Daily Telegraph that he found the film "a dispiriting mix of cliché and melodrama", although he acknowledged that the film does feature some superb acting.[58]

Awards and nominations

Precious has received dozens of nominations in award categories ranging from the performance of the cast to the direction to the cinematography to the adaptation of the book into the screenplay to the film itself including six Academy Award Nominations. Director Lee Daniels won the People's Choice Award, an award given by audience members at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.[59] Daniels won both awards for which he was nominated at the San Sebastián International Film Festival—the TVE Otra Mirada Award and the Audience Award. He was nominated in the category of Bronze Horse at the Stockholm Film Festival,[3] and was the recipient for Best Feature Film from the Hawaii International Film Festival.[3] Precious received five awards at the 2009 Independent Spirit Awards (ISA) in the categories for best film, first screenplay, direction, Actress and Supporting Actress.[60] Precious received nominations from the 67th Annual Golden Globes for the film and for the performances of Mo'Nique and Sidibe;[61] Mo'Nique won Best Supporting Actress. Precious was nominated in all three major categories at the 2009 Screen Actor Guild Awards; best cast, best actress, and best supporting actress; Mo'Nique won.[62] Precious was considered for the BAFTA awards in several categories, including Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Leading Actress (Gabourey Sidibe), Supporting Actress (Carey and Mo'Nique).[63] On February 2, 2010, the film received Academy Award nominations at the 82nd Academy Awards, for Best Picture, Best Actress (Sidibe), Best Supporting Actress (Mo'Nique), Best Director (Daniels), Best Adapted Screenplay (Fletcher) and Best Film Editing (Klotz). On March 7, 2010, Mo'Nique (Best Supporting Actress) and Precious (Best Adapted Screenplay) won their Academy Awards. The film was also nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for "Outstanding Film - Wide Release" during the 21st GLAAD Media Awards.[64]

See also

References

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  18. ^ Pamela McClintock (2009-02-02). "Lionsgate, Winfrey, Perry push 'Push'". Variety.com. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117999429.html?categoryId=13&cs=1. Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
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  22. ^ a b c d Press Release (2009-11-05). "Lionsgate Music, in Association With Matriarch/Geffen Records, Announces Release of Soundtrack to Lee Daniels' Highly Anticipated Film Precious: Based On The Novel 'Push' By Sapphire". Reuters.com. http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS25402+06-Nov-2009+PRN20091106. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 
  23. ^ "“Happy” Featured in Precious Movie Trailer". LeonaLewis.com. 2009-11-10. http://www.leonalewismusic.co.uk/us/news/detail/happy_featured_in_precious_movie_trailer/. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
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  26. ^ Editorial Staff (2009-11-17). "Precious Movie Review: Mo’Nique Shines Wickedly, but Characters Fail to Connect; Tiny Roles for Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, Sherri Shepherd". PeopleMagazineDaily.com. http://peoplemagazinedaily.com/?p=2980. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 
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  29. ^ Brooks Addicott. "Press & Industry -- Sundance Film Festival (festival dates)". Sundance.org. http://www.sundance.org/festival/press_industry/press_industry.asp. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
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