Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire
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Precious Jones; an inner-city high school girl; is illiterate; overweight; and pregnant... again. Nave and abused; Precious responds to a glimmer of hope when a door is opened by an alternative-school teacher. She is faced with the choice to follow opportunity and test her own boundaries. Prepare for shock; revelation and celebration.
Not every movie can survive the kind of hype--multiple awards at Sundance and other festivals, rapturous reviews, nominated for six Academy Awards and winner of two, for Best Supporting Actress and Best Screenplay--that greeted the release of Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire, but this extraordinary piece of work is more than up to the task. What's particularly notable about the film's success and acclaim is that in the beginning, at least, it presents one of the grimmest scenarios imaginable. The scene is Harlem, New York, in 1987. Teenager Clarisse Precious Jones (played by newcomer Gabourey Sibide in an absolutely fearless performance) is dirt poor, morbidly obese, semiliterate, and pregnant for the second time--both courtesy of her own father (the first baby was born with Down syndrome). Her home life is several levels below Hell, as her bitter, vengeful welfare mother, Mary (Mo'Nique, in a role that has generated legitimate Oscar® buzz), abuses her both physically and otherwise (telling Precious she should have aborted her is only the worst of a relentless flood of insults and vitriol). Yet somehow, the young woman still has hopes and dreams (depicted in a series of delightful fantasy sequences). She enrolls in an alternative school, where a young teacher (Paula Patton) takes her under her wing and even into her home, and visits a social worker (an excellent Mariah Carey; fellow pop star Lenny Kravitz is also effective as a male nurse) who further helps bring Precious out of the darkness. Incredibly, Precious's circumstances deteriorate even more before showing the slightest sign of improvement, and a climactic confrontation with her mother is one of the more wrenching scenes in recent memory. But against all odds, director Lee Daniels, screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher (working from Sapphire's novel), and especially the wondrously affecting Sibide have managed to make Precious a film that will lift the viewer far higher up that one might ever have thought possible. --Sam Graham
From Push to Precious
A "Precious" Ensemble
Oprah and Tyler: A Project of Passion
A Conversation with author Sapphire and director Lee Daniels
Deleted Scene: The Incest Survivor Meeting
Gabourey Sidibe audition
Reflections on Precious
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As the movie opens, Precious is pregnant for the second time, overweight, nearly illiterate, and withdrawn. She doesn't fit in at school, hates being at home, and escapes into her own world in her mind. These scenes are beautifully portrayed, and such a heartbreakingly accurate image of mental escapism at a time when it's desperately needed.
Her mother's main interests include sitting on the couch, watching TV, eating food that Precious cooks, and collecting welfare money any way possible. She's portrayed almost until the end as violent, cruel, and heartless to her family members. The single scene that feels different - and explains so much - can't even be trusted as true emotion, the character's cruel, jaded nature has already been so established.
Precious is moved to an alternative school, where she slowly learns to trust and open up due to her teacher and fellow students. She learns reading and writes daily, as the rest of the class does. She meets a male nurse when she gives birth to her second child who seems to become a friend as well. Without further spoilers, it's a difficult movie to view, but important to see. The situation isn't just a race issue, or class issue - abuse, incest, and evil exist in all segments of society. Viewing films like this, so well done and heartfelt, helps remind us of our own humanity and to show empathy for others.
The acting is top notch by all parties - despite Mariah Carey's much-acclaimed "no makeup" role, I feel every part of the cast played their role perfectly. In some circumstances this means you care about them, in others it causes rage at the character.
Yes, it is difficult to watch, and there are many points where I wondered how much worse her situation could get or how much more I could take. I found myself screaming in anger a couple of times during the confrontations with her mother, then agonizing over her situation in the last scene. It is very seldom that a movie can elicit such extreme emotions from me, but this one did, and brilliantly so.
The style of this movie is gritty and realistic with believable characters who actually make you care about them, despite the initial revulsion you might feel towards them. The situation of Precious is something you might read about in some Greek tragedy or Medieval morality play. The knowledge that is takes place in the present only adds to the weight of emotions that it brought about in me while I watched it.
Whatever you might feel about Precious, her life, or her ability to pull herself out of the hell from which she came, you cannot watch this movie without wondering how, and why, we as a society haven't done more to prevent these circumstances from existing in the first place.
Precious is about a abused inner city black teen, abused by just about everyone that knows her but mostly by her mother. The abuse is so hard to watch and know that there are children who do go through this every day. Gabourey doesn't do a lot of dialogue but you see the pain in her face, she says more by saying less and thats to the credit of the director.
You watch the mother of Precious abuse the welfare system, she uses her daughters children to get her more money while openly hating her daughter. The worse part is the telling of Precious mother knowing her father is raping Precious and she does nothing. She does nothing because she wants to be "taken care" of, the idea of getting off her bottom and getting a job never occurs to her, she resents and spits hate towards just about anything she wants to control.
Through encouragement Precious finds her way and begins to have dreams for herself and her children. You cheer for all the Precious children in the world.