Movie Review and Summary: Precious
I just finished watching the movie Precious, and I just had to come into the office and write a review! It affected me more than any movie has in a long, long time. You must see this film. It’s based on the novel Push, by Sapphire. It’s one of the most powerful movies I’ve ever seen. The plot is painfully raw, and the acting is so real that it’s almost like watching a documentary instead of a Hollywood creation.
Untrained actress Gabourey Sidibe shines in the title role of Claireece Precious Jones, a morbidly obese black teen from a Welfare home. Precious has been abused her entire life, by both her father and her mother. He father’s abuse was sexual. Because of his rapes, Precious has two children by him.
Precious’ mother constantly abuses her, also – verbally, emotionally, and physically. She uses the girl as a servant and as a meal ticket for her Welfare checks. The only stability in Precious’ life at this point is the grandmother, whose fear of her daughter prevents her from aiding her granddaughter.
Because of all the abuse, poor Precious has absolutely no self esteem. The two people in her life who should have been her protectors, her parents, served as her tormentors, instead. She describes herself as “ugly black grease to be washed from the street.” That's just so sad to me - that anyone could describe herself in those words.
Precious’ mother, Mary, is played by Mo’Nique. Who knew she was such an amazing actress? The scene with Mary and the social worker is truly unforgettable. In fact, it’s some of the best acting I’ve ever witnessed. As I was watching the scene, spellbound, I was wondering where Mo’Nique found all the razor-sharp emotion. There really are no words to describe it. You’ll just have to see it for yourself.
And speaking of the social worker, Mrs. Weiss – that part is played by Mariah Carey, whom I didn’t even recognize without all her glitter and makeup. She does an admirable job, also. I think it playing the part was a big step out of Ms. Carey's "comfort zone," if you know what I mean.
Precious is practically illiterate, yet in her inner city Harlem school, she’s considered a good student because she’s quiet and rarely causes any trouble. Obviously, her teachers don't care about learning - they seem to care only about classroom behavior. Because she doesn't cause the teachers problems, she receives little attention from the educators. Her life changes, however, when school officials discover that she’s pregnant and is subsequently kicked out of school. Her only option is to attend an alternative school.
The alternative class is taught by Ms. Rain, played by Paula Patton. Rain is a truly dedicated teacher who cares deeply about her students. Once Precious learns to trust and believe in Ms. Rain, she begins to believe in herself and starts to turn her life around. This really hit home with me and with many other viewers: It's amazing how one person can have such a profound impact on someone else's life.
This movie touched me on several levels, probably because of my years teaching at the high school level. Precious reminded me of several students I’ve known – lost souls searching for a way to assuage the pain in their lives. And I taught in a small town, so I can’t imagine how many teens in the crime-ridden public schools of the inner cities are suffering a similar fate to Precious. Unfortunately, far too many of these youth simply fall through the cracks. They don’t all have a Ms. Rain to catch them.
The only parts of the movie that didn’t completely work for me were Precious’ fantasies. She often daydreams about being a movie star or some other celebrity, where crowds of fans adore her. I suppose they fit in a way, however, since Precious’ ultimate goal was finding love and acceptance. I suppose one reason this was hard for me to relate to is because I had a very happy childhood, with two wonderful parents.
Precious is an inspirational story of an improbable heroine overcoming almost insurmountable obstacles. The film will shock and anger you, but in the end, you’re sure to find it uplifting.
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