Precious (2008)

“Oh, so you’re going to stand up there and look down at me like you’re a woman? You don’t know what real women do. Real women sacrifice!”

Cast: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique and Paula Patton

Based on the bestselling novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, the film Precious is nothing but an emotional, moving and raw depiction of abuse, desperation and hope.

Clareece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) is an illiterate, overweight, African-American teen from Harlem. At 16 she already has one child and is pregnant with her second. Growing up in an abusive home with her mother claiming welfare benefits, Precious has been on a continuos struggle through her short life so far. When she’s moved to a different school though, an alternative path for her future is opened up to her and she gets what most people wish they could have, a chance to start over.

All of the performances in Precious were outstanding. Such a stellar cast really made for the difficult and taboo subjects of the film to be told in a brave and confident way. It really allowed for this harrowing look into inner-city life be told in a triumphant way.

Mary, a violent and heavily abusive mother to Precious was played by Mo’Nique. Although hard to watch at times, just because she was purely abusive yet ironically dependent on her daughter, Mo’Nique played Mary with a feisty attitude and a frighteningly real sense of conviction. Her efforts were acknowledged with a Golden Globe, an Academy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress. There’s no doubt she was the strongest actor with her portrayal being so spot on it was unnerving.

Precious’ new school teacher, Ms Rain (Paula Patton) is perhaps the most sympathetic character. Offering Precious an alternative route and giving her hope for her future for the first time in her life, it’s fair to say Ms Rain is the mother Precious never had. This loving person is something so bizarre and alien to Precious who believes no one loves her. Patton really does a fantastic job in this role, it’s almost as if she’s playing us in the sense that we really feel for this broken girl and root for her to get out of this terrible situation.

I didn’t think I’d be saying this but I have to take my hat off to Mariah Carey. I did not expect such a great performance from her as social worker Mrs. Weiss. This plain and unmade look is something we don’t ever see from the diva, so to see her like this, looking all vulnerable and normal, was the first thing that shocked me. However she continued to do so. Her character is almost in too deep with this situation that has been sprung on her but she really tries to help fix the mess with her no nonsense, scepticism. However, even she is emotionally brought down a notch the further into the story she delves.

Lenny Kravitz also stars in the film as Nurse John. I didn’t even realise it was him until the credits rolled. Playing a sweet nurse that Precious falls for, Kravitz’s role is small but an important part in Precious’ life, offering that bit of optimism and hope that was missing from her life before. Her new group of school mates are also a welcomed and fresh attribute to the film. Ranging from a hardened but recovering drug abuser to a rich pretty girl just trying her hand at getting a better education, the group of girls that Precious begins to associate herself with see real friendships form between them all.

Another thing I really loved about the film was Precious’ running commentary throughout. I gather this is from her journal that she was told to write for school, but it’s works as this great device allowing us to look that bit further into her life and understand the way she’s feeling. At times comical, others heartbreaking, it was a great decision that shows her personal growth and character development, something that is absolutely key to an unsparing and what seemed, hopeless situation to be burdened with.

A great adaptation from the novel, Precious is a raw look into an abusive childhood and an uncompromising situation this young girl has grown up in. Not for the faint hearted, Precious is full of grit, vigour and emotion that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Star rating:  7.5/10

Directed by Lee Daniels.

Running time 109 minutes.

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