Precious - THE REVIEW

Precious is the gritty story of a 16 year old single mother in late 80s Harlem, New York, dreaming of a better life. Although Mariah Carey is in it, to say it's a Mariah Carey film would be like saying The Hangover is a Mike Tyson movie. She's actually pretty good in it, playing a welfare officer - and just a little bit scary without make-up - but Precious is something else altogether.

Here's what you need to know:

It's 80% brilliant. The unknown lead, Gabourey Sidibe (as Precious), plays nearly everything under the surface. She has a stony face that you know is hiding a million feelings but she's just too confused to let it all out. Because she's in such a helpless situation - but is so silently stoic and tough - you're rooting for her every step of the way.

It's 15% overdone. Precious' mum Mary is played by Mo'nique who gives one of the most startlingly shocking performances of recent years. Seriously, she will scare the crap out of you. At times though, her big scenes in her high rise flat are shot a bit like a horror movie, all moody lighting and eerie camera angles. It turns those moments into something from Carrie rather than what it should be - just really raw, indie cinema. The direction (not the performance) is completely out of sync with the rest of the film. Later, Mary has a scene in the Welfare Office which doesn't have that melodrama and, man, IT'S ONE OF THE MOST PANT-WETTINGLY DRAMATIC MOMENTS YOU'LL EVER SEE.

It's 5% a bit silly. Precious has dream sequences where she imagines being a superstar, all glamorous clothes and paparrazi flash bulbs. They're done a bit like something from a kids' TV show. It doesn't really work and again, isn't in tune with the rest of the film.

The cons don't ruin it though. This is one awesome display of acting, even if the direction is a bit amateur and occasionally sappy. It reminded a little of Hustle & Flow, another Sundance Film Festival movie that took on the big guns. Like that, this'll get Oscar nominations. Oprah's ALL OVER IT so you know something big's gonna happen.