Monday, March 08, 2010

Gabourey Sidibe, in Precious
approximately 66 minutes and 47 seconds
65.1% of the film

The film

In Harlem, an overweight, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.

You can find my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.

Precious is a very dramatic, well written, overdirected but I’m fine with that, fabulously acted movie. I guess it was the only 2009 movie to really have a meaningful emotional impact on me after watching.

Gabourey Sidibe as Clarice Precious Jones

Once in a while you get a performance that you just know it’s a one-hit-wonder. This is Gaby’s first acting job, so her first Oscar nomination and probably her last. The role of Precious required a good acting instinct and a good ear to listen to Lee Daniel’s well thought direction. And we can’t ignore the physicality of the role… Gaby has all these requirements, so I thought the casting was perfect. The result? A very special performance that is probably most difficult to read for me…

Gaby plays Precious, a 1980s overweight teenager dealing with a lot of problems: her illiteracy, the sexual abuse that left her pregnant for the 2nd time, and the mental and physical abuse caused by her mother. The film really is a journey for Precious and we can sense that from Gaby’s well thought performance. No doubt you can see the arc of the character and the change Precious goes through.

You couldn’t really tell it’s 100% acting if it weren’t for those fantasy scenes. They are the least interesting parts of the film, but I can see why Lee Daniels used them. Such a moment of fantasy happiness for Precious allows Gaby to glow and basically act like her real-life persona (you’ve seen the interviews, right?). By showing the fantasy, it creates a contrast with Precious’s daily way of being and underlines the acting that Gaby really puts into this role.

This take on fear and illiteracy looks very believable. It might be a bit frustrating to barely understand what Precious is saying in her first dialogues, but those scenes show a fear of failure and the defence mechanism Precious has created for herself. It’s also interesting how Gaby presents her, with a mixture of tough girl ready to bully and the person resigned to abuse from all around her, but always remembering Precious IS a teenager: so, keeping some stubbornness and moods of the age.

Her big shinning moment in the film doesn’t live up to Mo’Nique’s, but it’s fabulous. The Why me? scene, followed by the Nobody loves me… is like a relief moment, expressing what has partly been on our minds ever since the beginning of the film. The crying is heartbreaking and the scene just feels so REAL, like most of Gaby’s acting throughout. She puts lots of honesty in the performance, and by doing so creates a strong bond with the viewer.

It’s hard to find something negative in the performance to blame her for. Looking at it, I just see a very directed performance and a good actress doing the job. This isn’t necessarily bad… or at least it’s hard to make up my mind. What I can tell is that for me Precious is all about Mo’Nique and I couldn’t wait for her to get back on screen; even when I’m watching it again, my eyes are still on her, not on Gaby. To me, Mo’Nique steals every scene and I’m always influenced by that. So: a strong from me!


joe burns said...

She's my choice for the win! Here's how I would rank them:

1. Sidibe

2. Mulligan

3. Streep

4. Mirren

5. Bullock

Anonymous said...

Given what Daniels gave her to work with, I thought she was incredible. Good write-up.

M. Carter @ the Movies said...

Mo'Nique gave the showier of the two performances, but Gabourey Sidibe really captured the way the horrors of Precious' life have made her almost mute, taught her that her voice means nothing so why speak? It's amazing stuff from a newcomer, and such a young one at that.

Michael Parsons said...

Brilliant performance. Exactly how I imagined her when I read the book.

Burning Reels said...

Nice piece - liking the percentages touch.

Easily my favorite from the Oscar nominated, although Cornish and Swinton would eclipse her in my own ballot.

It will be very interesting to see the trajectory of Sidibe's career.

joanna said...

"Once in a while you get a performance that you just know it’s a one-hit-wonder." I don't think that Sidibe's performance could be called a one-hit-wonder, one can tell that she is very talented and besides that, she has done a lot of work to make her acting as great as that. Plus, I think sh'e gonna do great in her next performances too, I can tell that she's got what it takes for that.

Alex in Movieland said...

Joanna, you actually believe she's gonna get another opportunity to a role such as Precious?

do u see her as ever getting nominated again for an Oscar?

if u do, that's an interesting perspective, unfortunately I don't :( I can see Carey, Vera Farmiga, Sandra Bullock, even Mo'Nique... but not Gaby. This was IT for her, in terms of important leading roles.