Review of “Precious”

 
 

It’s easy to have all the solutions to someone else’s problems, like when we scream at the screen during a horror movie. We want the heroine to escape, but in the heat of the moment and with a knife to her neck, it’s hard for her to be logical. She’s going the wrong way. Why didn’t she hit him with the coat rack?

Clareece Precious Jones does not have a knife to her throat — if only her life could be that simple — but we just keep wishing she would break that window and run to safety.

Precious, the film directed by openly gay director Lee Daniels and based on the novel Push by bisexual writer Sapphire, tells the story of 16-year-old Precious Jones, played by actress Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe. Obese, pregnant with her second child and illiterate, one cannot help but wonder how she got to this place. Rather quickly and unapologetically, we learn.

Gabourey Sidibe

Raped by her father, physically and emotionally abused by her mother (to the point where the word “abuse” barely does it justice) and with no friends to turn to, Precious’ life is quite frankly hard to watch. She gets a “break” when her principal decides to send her to an alternative school.

It’s here, a Harlem classroom in the late 80s, where we meet teacher Blu Rain — played by the gorgeous and talented Paula Patton — and a group of other young women hoping to learn enough to get their GEDs.

Despite her name, beauty and level of compassion for the girls in the classroom, Ms. Rain is not a light and fluffy character. She knows how the welfare system and the New York Public School system failed these girls. Her teaching style borders on activism — she’s an intellectual, a lesbian and is not about to let these girls fail under her watch.

Paula Patton

As the film progressed, I found myself longing for those moments in the classroom. Ms. Rain and the girls provide much-needed relief from the things that take place in the Jones household.

Precious’ mom, played by comedian and actor Mo’Nique, is horrifying. Glued to her recliner and television, she truly believes her own daughter “stole” her boyfriend from her and has virtually no remorse for her actions. From Precious being forced to eat and being beaten with frying pans, to (even more) sexual abuse, the Jones home is worse than any horror film I’ve seen.

Gabourey Sidibe and Mo’Nique

The film is relentless. If there is a light at the end of the tunnel at all, there is bound to be much more suffering before Precious gets to it. Unlike other tales of abuse survivors on the big screen, the film is not wrapped up in a pretty bow, but things are getting better.

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