Thursday, October 29, 2009

Life Is Precious No Matter Who You Are

In my review of Motherhood, I mentioned that it was the opening film in the International Film Festival, I also mentioned that the film didn't deserve that honor, and that luckily there were other, much better films that followed it and saved the Festival. One of those films was "Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire" This is one of the most emotional movies that I have seen in awhile. This movie will touch almost everyone, and some it will touch on a personal level. I found myself captivated by the power that this simple story contains.

Clareece 'Precious' Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) is an overweight, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child, the consequence of incest, by the boyfriend of her mother Mary (Mo'Nique). This isn't her only problem Precious is literally a shut in she goes to school, has fantasies about her teacher, comes home to cook and clean for Mary. Precious goes out to buy Mary's lotto numbers and then spends the rest of her night inside the house, her only activity is when she becomes a punching bag for Mary. One day at school she is called to the principals office, Principal Lichtenstein(Nealla Gordon) suspends Precious because she is pregnant. Later that night Mrs. Lichtenstein comes to Precious' house to tell her that they have enrolled her into an alternative school and that she starts the following morning. Mary blows up because she thinks that her welfare depends on this woman being happy. There is a later scene in the movie that is especially heartbreaking. The scene is where the grandmother brings Precious' first child, who is autistic to the house so that the welfare social worker can think that Mary is taking care of her, and this is truly a heartbreaking scene, the aftermath is gut wrenching.

When Precious gets to the alternative school her teacher Miss Rains (Paula Patton) takes special care to include all of the students in every project. The other students are not any where near the perfect role model but when Precious delivers her second child, a boy, they are there to support her. The movie conveys a dreary Harlem existence that is profane, hard-edged and brutal, but also has some rays of humanity and compassion that leave room for hope. With the help of Miss Raines and another social worker, Mrs. Weiss (Mariah Carey) Precious goes from a young woman in an impossible situation to a strong willed individual with the determination to push through it all, breaking free from the stereotypes that plague her, the past that haunts her and her mother's abusive control over her.

The films directing is of a high enough caliber that Lee Daniels deserves some praise this awards season and may be among several cast members to receive such a well deserved nod. The script is so well written that it never feels slow and the pacing of this film is steady enough that we're engrossed the entire time. Some praise should be given to Lenny Kravitz, who appears on screen to become a sort of guardian angel to precious in her time of need. This is one movie that you will walk out of thinking that no matter what your problems are, they are nothing compared to what you just witnessed. Precious has faced many such adversaries and has risen above everything thrown at her.

I give Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire a hearty 4 and on my avoidance scale an even heartier 0, this movie is hard to watch and several scenes will have you crying, this is not a movie for the entire family, this is one of those take you mom to see films and then spend some time talking about how fortunate you really are.

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire is rated R for Child Abuse including Sexual Assault and Pervasive Language
Running time is 1 hr. 49 mins.

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