PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL PUSH BY SAPPHIRE
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire sheds light on subject matters no one wants to talk about: child abuse and our poor education system. It goes to the extreme to leave a lasting impression with its painful examples of both. Gabourey Sidibe is awe-inspiring in her first role. And Mo'Nique as her mother makes Joan Crawford look like June Cleaver. She gives new meaning to the word hateful.
Clarice “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) is a 15 year old who is pregnant with her second child. Her father is the father of both of her children. Her mother (Mo'Nique) resents her for this so she mentally and physically abuses her. When the school principal sends Precious to an alternative school called Each One Teach One, Precious connects with her teacher Miss Rain (Paula Patton). And Miss Rain finds out that Precious can barely read and write. Miss Rain works with Precious to get her back on track. And when the welfare checks stop coming to her mother, Precious is forced to go down to the office and speak to a social worker (Mariah Carey). Precious finally lets out the abuse she has endured her whole life. But tragic news may finally break Precious after all she has overcome.
The story is heavy subject matter to say the least. But director Lee Daniels took Geoffrey Fletcher's adapted screenplay and made a film that you want to turn away from but just can't. It is hard to believe people like Precious are out there. But it is obvious that author Sapphire had first hand knowledge of physical and sexual abuse. That is because there is nothing put on or insincere about the scenes between Precious and her mother Mary. The films wants to end with a feeling of hope but it is hard to get past everything this poor girl has gone through. Its two principles make the film what it is.
Gabourey Sidibe as Precious embodies this girl and all the pain and suffering she has endured. She just has to stand there and the hurt is present. The act of cleaning dishes shows how beaten down she is with just the slump of her shoulders. Her breakdown towards the end would have been nothing without all the buildup of each scene before that. Mo'Nique as Mary is a nightmare of a woman, let alone a mother. The dark place that she must have had to go to to do this role is unfathomable. Her anger is in your face with just the act of sitting in her chair watching television and smoking her cigarettes. The unspeakable acts she commits are horrifying because of her commitment to this role.
The supporting players are there to show their leads the way. Sherri Shepherd, Paula Patton, Lenny Kravitz, and even Mariah Carey all have significant roles but all know that they are just bystanders to Precious and her mother. It is a dark and gritty New York in 1987. There are no neon colors or shoulder pads in this wardrobe. It is all black, grey, and dull colors. Even Mary's white tank unitard with flowers manages to look dreary and drab. The buildings are all cold with florescent lighting. The only time the visuals come alive are during Precious's fantasies.
Even though it was necessary, the scenes of abuse (sexually and physically) are hard to watch. It might not make the film better but it would be easier to watch. This can be a good and bad thing.
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire is a heartbreaking movie about a girl who has gone through more than her fair share of pain. The scenes between Precious and her mother are riveting and agonizing at the same time. This is due to Geoffrey Fletcher's screenplay, Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique's performances, and Lee Daniels direction. It is a film that will not be easy to forget.