Review of “Precious”

 
 

Precious has been beaten and broken, but has not lost all hope — which is a miracle given her situation. She loves to learn, and as her education progresses in Ms. Rain’s class, she seems better equipped to deal with all the difficulties life keeps throwing at her.

When Precious discovers that Ms. Rain is a lesbian, she is shocked for a moment — but then thinks it through. Her mother has told her that homosexuals are bad people, but Precious begins listing off all the things “homos” didn’t do to her: they didn’t abuse her, didn’t rape her, didn’t do anything but help her out of a dire situation.

Gabourey Sidibe and Paula Patton

This part of the film made the hair on my arms stand up. I was so impressed not only with the lesbians in Precious’ class and Ms. Rain’s sexuality being mentioned, but that the film took the time to point out something so obvious: Gays are not the enemy, and why do people think that, anyway?

Homosexuality is not glazed over or included in the film for shock-value, likely thanks to Sapphire, a bisexual feminist who was involved in lesbian activism in New York in the late-70s.

The acting in the movie is impressive to say the least. Mariah Carey plays social worker Mrs. Weiss, who Precious needs in order to get her mother’s beloved welfare checks and who eventually holds a meeting with Precious and Mrs. Jones — one of the most intense moments in the film.

Sidibe captures Precious perfectly. I walked out of the theater knowing no one else could have pulled off that role, and expect to see much more of her in the future.

The term “Oscar-worthy” has been thrown around quite a bit in discussions of the film, and one nomination I would bet money on is for Mo’Nique as Mrs. Jones. While watching her performance, I found myself saying “Who knew?” Lenny Kravitz is great as Nurse John, but Mo’Nique’s acting chops take the cake.

Mo’Nique

Some critics aren’t thrilled with the film’s fantasy sequences, which often put Precious on a stage or red carpet in a fancy dress with a dreamy man. While they are a little over-the-top and perhaps too long, I see what the filmmakers were trying to do. This girl must do something to mentally escape from her situation. She chooses to picture herself somewhere else, doing something special.

I was surprised (and somewhat relieved) to learn that the film was not based on a true story, but the themes within it are still completely relevant. The film is dedicated to “Precious girls everywhere,” and it’s hard not to shed a few tears knowing that these girls exist.

The film tackles everything from incest to AIDS, despair to hope. But the one overwhelming message I took with from it was the value of female friendship. Precious is transformed when she has classmates to tease and open up to. She finally has the strength to break through that window and run to safety. She knows no one is going to save her except herself, but she’ll have a little help and support along the way.

Don’t see Precious expecting to leave the theater with anything but a heavy heart, but do see it. Precious’ story deserves to be heard.

Precious is now playing in select theaters.

 

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