By Merlin Hernandez

I am hoping to keep this as a business blog. But every now and again something extraordinary crosses my path and I am compelled to share it.

So I finally saw the movie Precious last night. I’d been holding out from another tiresome foray into the “hood”. But it’s the college autumn break and her ladyship is home and thought we might do some bonding. My little analysis is way late but I know of many who are still holding out… This movie is surprisingly well-made but not one for the feint of heart. The cast comprises actors with wide audience appeal – Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, Mo’Nique, Paula Patton – but the film does not need it and their personas are deliberately subsumed to the power of the story and the skill of the director in creating a unique ensemble. For a change “gritty” is not a gimmick but serves to sustain the overall disequilibrium we are made to inhabit. Geoffrey Fletcher’s screenplay is often deceptively familiar and punctuated by moments of irony but it is always preternaturally dark and threatening in its simplicity. Just when we think we have reached the edges of the bearable, we are pushed to a new level of unease, and then jettisoned in a free fall into the abyss of unreason.

Yet the movie remains firmly anchored in its realness – broken people, failing institutions, broken dreams. Director, Lee Daniels is relentless but never dispassionate, restrained but not calculating and above all, the story is revealed with a sure hand. Newcomer Gabby Sidibe, as Precious, engaged on so many levels, it is impossible to view this film from the posture of an outsider – each disturbing moment memorable with some that will remain iconic. The lesson of survival has probably never been so visceral. As for Mo’Nique’s performance…I have never seen an actress go where this woman had to go to reach into that place of authenticity … and pathos. She deserved that Oscar more than many who share that honor.

So if you haven’t seen this film, make a point of getting it. This is definitely one for the DVD collection.