Film: Precious

Cast includes: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo”Nique (Mo’Nique’s Fat
), Paula Patton (Deja Vu), Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz
Executive producers: Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry
Director: Lee Daniels (Monster’s Ball)
Genre: Drama based on Push by Sapphire

In brief: “My name is Claireece Precious Jones, and someday I’m gonna be normal.” One look at Precious, and we know that’s an ambicious goal. She’s 16, hugely overweight, still in junior high and pregnant with her second child by her father. Precious has no safe haven… taunted by people in the neighborhood, abused by both her father and her mother… and now, Precious is being thrown out of school for being pregnant. A “white bitch from school” wants her to go to an “alternative school” called Each One Teach One. If she scores 8 or better on the test, she can study for her GED.

But that won’t happen. Precious can’t read. She barely knows the alphabet. Ms. Rain, the Each One Teach One teacher, wants Precious to write in her journal every day… even if every word is misspelled. So Precious writes… and her journal becomes the script for a powerful voiceover that carries the story along. Alternating between the present, Harlem 1987, and the past, we gradually learn what Precious has endured. But we also learn that Precious has potential to make something of herself. And Precious has a vivid imagination… which often takes her to exciting places. In fact, every time Precious is brutalized, that vivid imagination transports her to a fanticy life. It’s the only way Precious can survive the abuse. And quite honestly, it’s the only way the audience could survive this movie.

This is not a movie for the faint of heart. While the filmmakers were kind enough to spare us of some of the physical violence, they took us on an emotional journey that most of us have never experienced. While we recognize early on that Precious is in peril, each layer of this movie takes us deeper into the dark places of her life… in parts, leaving us gasping for breath. Yet by the end, we know Precious is, in many ways, better off.

While the involvement of Oprah and Tyler in this movie will help it attract black audiences, it’s not really about the “black struggle.” While most of us are fortunate enough not to know the kind of world we see in Precious, this story could happen anywhere, where hate and ignorance oppress the powerless. Precious will never be truly normal, but it’s gratifying to see how little acts of kindness can help Precious get back some of what was taken from her.

popcorn rating

4 popped kernels

Popped kernels for everything... the acting, the script, the production... don't have enough popcorn for this one

Popcorn Profile

Primary Audience: Young adults and  grown-ups
Gender Appeal: Any audience 
Distribution: Mainstream limited release  
Mood:  Somber 
Tempo: Cruses comfortably    
Visual Style: Unvarnished realism  
Character Development: Intense
Language: True to life 
Social Significance: Thought provoking 


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