Reel Deal: 'Precious' disturbing, but good
Appalled, disturbed, disgusted and semi-hopeful are all appropriate words and feelings that could describe how I felt while watching the movie 'Precious' (based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire.
Set in 1980s Harlem, the film revolves around Clareece 'Precious' Jones (newcomer Gabourey Sidibe), an illiterate and obese 16-year-old junior high school student who is pregnant with her second child, both of whom were conceived during sexual assaults by her father.
Friendless and alone, she fantasizes of a different life; in one daydream, her math teacher declares his undying love for her, and in another she is a different person all together (skinny, white and blonde). Any imaginary scenario is better than what she has to endure in the real world.
While she struggles academically in the classroom, she struggles to survive in the dingy apartment she shares with her emotionally, physically and sexually abusive mother Mary (Mo'Nique), who only wants her daughter around for the welfare checks.
Just when you start wondering 'Why did I want to see this totally depressing movie,' hope comes in the form of an offer for Precious to attend an alternative education school.
At the school, she befriends other teens who empathize with her plight, thrives under the tutelage of Ms. Rain (Paula Patton), and slowly starts to reclaim her often-stripped dignity and discovers her own self-worth.
However, one shouldn't be fooled by that description, other hits come for Precious, so much so that the film toes the line of melodrama, but what keeps it from stepping over and being utterly watchable are the fine performances from all the actors (including Mariah Carey, which was a big shock to me), especially Sidibe and Mo'Nique. The comedian plays the villainous role of Mary so well and effectively, it made me want to reach over and kiss my mother on the cheek for being the complete opposite of that character.
Even though 'Precious' deals with some dark subject matter, it also has light and humorous moments sprinkled throughout, which kept the oppressive and depressive feel of the movie at (close) bay. B
Dedra Cordle is a Messenger staff writer.