Jim Emerson’s review of Precious…
2009 was indeed a bleak year for Hollywood, not so much in terms of box office returns, but when it comes to innovative, fresh work, definitely. The awards season is upon us, and the Golden Globes were truly dismal, predicting a similar fate for the Oscars that nearly always take fewer risks and are mostly quite predictable.
One of the films that has attracted what to me seems undue attention is Lee Daniel’s Precious Based on the Novel by Sapphire. I didn’t want to give in to the ominous feelings that came up when I saw the promos, but sadly, the film remains a collage of characters, moments and situations we have seen endlessly. It fails to move out of its self congratulatory sense of greatness, and is all too aware of its project of depicting a dark American reality. The fact, however, is that this reality has been depicted many many times before, and Precious does nothing new at all. In fact, I would say the carving out of characters is at times embarrassingly naive.
The film, however, has generated many positive reviews, because as always to speak out against a film about an African American character is perceived more as a socio-political stand rather than the aesthetic one that it is. Jim Emerson has however lashed out against the film, and has written a meticulous piece on the shortcomings of the film. I don’t agree with him on the film’s comic potential, but I do endorse his critique.