Before we get into the review of the film however, let me just say this. I *REFUSE* to continue calling it 'Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire' over & over again. I don't know how author Sapphire got the filmmakers to commit to mentioning her name as the title, but it's obnoxious. She's written one novel & 3 books of poetry. She isn't Shakespeare or even Stephen King . Imagine if all authors did this to the film versions of their novels. Imagine for a moment, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Based upon the Novel "Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone by J.K. Rowling" or "Going Rogue: Based upon the fictional Pop Up book "Going Rogue" by Sarah Palin". It's ridiculous. Stop being so self important. Learn from the greats and allow your work to speak for itself. If people are interested enough in the story, they'll seek out your work. Or the audience would see the begining or end credits which would say "Based upon the novel by Joe So & So". OK, tirade over.
Adapted from the award winning novel "Push", "Precious" follows 16 year old Claireece "Precious" Jones (played incredibly by Gabourey Sidibe) in 1987 Harlem. 'Precious' is a severely obsese, illiterate, black young woman just trying to get through her life. She lives with her abusive mother Mary (Mo'Nique) who thrives on television and the welfare checks she recieves, in Section 8 housing. When the movie starts, we're taken into Precious' world of lonlineness, isolation, despair and depression. Through flashbacks, we learn that Precious was repeatedly raped by her mother's boyfriend, and has a child named Mongo (short for mongoloid) by him. After being impregnated a second time by him, the boyfriend departs leaving Mary to blame Precious for "making her man leave". We follow Precious as she gets suspended from school for being pregnant again, and enrolls in an alternative school, which she hopes will change her life. There she meets her new teacher, Blu Rain (Paula Patton) who sees the potential in Precious and begins teaching her how to read. As she becomes literate and educated, she begins to taste freedom.
I don't want to get into too much plot-wise, as this is a movie that shouldn't be spoiled. "Precious" should be required viewing and deserves all the awards it has won (& will continue to win). It is one helluva powerful movie. Is it hard to take? Yes. But the film is hard to take because it's so realistic & because sometimes, life is so hard to take. That is how realistic this movie is. You feel like you are just as lonely and desperate and hopeless as Precious is. You feel like a fly on the wall in the section 8 housing, wanting to save Precious from all of her abusive, dysfunctional, horrifying relationships. The only love that Precious has ever known is pain. And while she fantasizes about a better life for herself by being someone else- a white woman, a music video star, a movie star - she can not break free from her life & the cycle of abuse. This is heavy, powerful stuff. It is also filmmaking at its finest. Beautifully directed, powerfully written, and amazingly acted, Precious is certainly one of my favorite films in recent memory. With supporting turns by Lenny Kravitz as a hospital nurse, and a suprisingly strong performance by Mariah Carey as a social worker, the cast is well rounded and strong. This is a movie that you MUST see. It's not an easy film, it's not a fluffy film, it's not neatly wrapped - just like our lives. This is where its greatest strength lies.