Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Precious

I don't remember the last time I cried in the movie theatre - prior to Sunday evening, that is. I finally forced myself to go see the movie Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, which I was reluctant to see because of the weighty subject matter: the protagonist is a poor, illiterate, obese, black, teenager, who is pregnant - for the second time - by her father.  Yikes.  And damn.  How could this be entertainment?

But films, not movies, are not just about entertainment, are they?  "Precious" is no mere movie.  Following the story of the title character, Claireese Precious Jones (played by newcomer Gabourney Sidibe), made me weep for all the little girls that suffer at the hands of those who are expected to love and protect them.  As I watched, I couldn't help but think of the case of little Shaniya,  who was raped and murdered after her mother sold her to pay off a drug debt.

This film was painful to watch.  As Precious' mother, ironically named Mary (and played by actress/comedian Mo'Nique), explains how she allowed her child to come to this ugly place in the world, I felt sick.  I, at once, hated and pitied this woman who, in her desperation to keep a man, allowed that man to brutalize her child -- and blamed the child for taking her man.  It made me wonder how she came to inhabit her own very ugly place in the world.

As we meet Precious she is clearly hanging on by a very weak thread - an active, and very necessary fantasy life.  It is not until her second pregnancy forces her from her regular public middle school (which she attends though she is 16 years old) into the Each One Teach One "alternative" school that she gets thrown a rope.  Her new teacher, Blue Rain, played by the ridiculously beautiful Paula Patton, sees the beauty and promise in this forgotten child.

"Precious" forces the viewer to consider a host of issues that are laying waste to our youth - poverty, appalling parenting, violence, poor education, neglect, lack of nutrition.  But I think that at its core, this is a film about redemption, and the ability of one person to make a difference in the life of another.  When it comes to love and caring, a little can go a very long way, even in the midst of horrifying circumstances.

This film moved me in a way that none has in a very long time.  The performances are phenomenal, and I will not soon forget them.  I had no idea Mo'Nique had it in her - this lovable funnywoman brought the detestable and pathetic Mary to life.  I saw Mariah Carey (in the role of a tough social worker) as a person for the first time, rather than just a super star.  And Gabbie Sidibe is a revelation.  With some films I want mostly to know what happens.  This film was beautifully shot to create a profound sense of realism (even with the fantasy sequences).  It was difficult and beautiful to look at all at once, and I just wanted to watch it.

On a closing note:  We have come to expect evil from strangers, even against the most innocent and vulnerable members of society.  My hope is that we will ever be surprised and outraged at the evil parents do to their own, Precious children.

3 comments:

cici said...

What an awesome and thourough review! Thanks. It's the first review that makes me want to see this movie♥

flyngmunky said...

Thanks, Cici! You really should see this one. Happy Thanksgiving!

Whitish said...

Great movie synopsis! I look forward to checking it out. It sounds like a moving experience. Thanx for noting the difference between a film and a movie, by the way. I've tried to get that point across to people but they don't always get it.

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