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Precious, 2009 – Movie Review

Posted by LiveFor on January 31, 2010

Director: Lee Daniels
Starring: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz

Reviewed by pjowens75.

PRECIOUS: Based on The Novel PUSH by Sapphire

Some movies are harder to watch than others. Not because they’re bad, but because they show us a world that makes us uncomfortable; a world that we know exists, but have never consciously wanted any part of. They make us uncomfortable because they are real…too real.
PRECIOUS: Based On the Novel PUSH By Sapphire is one of those movies. It shows us a world so bleak and full of despair that we find ourselves squirming in our seats. But director Lee Daniels doesn’t shove it into our faces or hit us over the head with it. Instead he shows us this world through the eyes of one young girl who is caught in the middle of it all.

Claireece P. Jones is the “Precious” of the title, and is played by Gabourey Sidibe. She is an overweight 16 year old who is pregnant with her second child. But this is not a movie about dealing with the consequences of her own bad choices, but of dealing with the situations that have been forced upon her. For both babies are the results of being raped and abused by her own father. And in one of the welfare system’s many unfairnesses, Precious is suspended from school, seemingly slamming the door on the only escape from her terrible life.

But the biggest villain in this movie, even more than the abusive father, or the system seemingly at odds with itself, is Precious’ own mother Mary, unforgettably played by Mo’Nique. She allows the sexual abuse to take place, to produce babies and increase the size of her welfare check, and is constantly abusive to Precious, intentionally tearing apart her hopes & dreams, calling her “stupid” and saying “I knew I should’ve aborted you.” Mary is a woman with no redeeming values whatsoever and may easily be one of the most hateful characters ever filmed. It is to Mo’Nique’s credit that she makes her so much more than the one dimensional caricature tempted by the script. We can see all the calculating rationalizations going on inside her as she heaps abuse after abuse on all of those around her.

Eventually, Precious finds her way to an alternative school, and in the midst of her uncaring world, finds people who do care, in friends and in a teacher, Ms. Rain (Paula Patton), who gives her a journal and makes her write something in it, every day, even if she must force herself to do it.

And gradually, just as Precious slowly learns to care about herself, we begin to care about her and hope that the seething volcano of emotions we see building inside her will erupt, bringing explosive justice to all her abusers. But this isn’t an action film where the villains “get it” in the most gruesome ways imaginable. No, this is real life, and when the eruption finally does happen, we may not be completely happy with the outcome, but must be satisfied simply with the hope that Precious is taking control of her life and is on her way out of her predicament.

And perhaps that is what makes us so uncomfortable, not the content of the film itself, but the knowledge that this world really exists and is every bit as dark and unfair as the movie portrays. And perhaps we are upset that the filmmakers have spoiled our bright sunny day by making us aware of this world. But it is a world we should be aware of. And it is well written, directed, and especially acted movies like PRECIOUS that keep bringing it to our attention in a way that makes us care.

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