Gypsygrrl asked for a review of the film Precious, based on the novel Push by Sapphire. I saw it over the weekend, and was just blown away.
Honestly? I’m not quite sure where to begin. The amazing acting?
Mo’Nique was incredible—completely believable as a cold, harsh, abusive, sadistic woman who cares only for herself. Her assumed affection for her daughter and grandchildren is only for what she can get from them: welfare money, food, cigarettes, playing her numbers, and sex.
Mariah Carey was amazing in her role as an overworked and overtired social worker who is trying to get to the root of what’s going on in Precious’s life. It was very evocative of my brief tenure as a CPS investigator, trying desperately to understand what was happening in the families and wanting to help, but being completely stonewalled because I was an outsider, someone who couldn’t understand, it was none of my business, or perhaps because like Precious initially seemed to feel, nothing could help.
Paula Patton stars as Blu Rain, the reading teacher at the alternative school, and inspires Precious with her passion and dedication. She takes the time to sit with Precious, and teaches her to read, letter by letter, word by word. When Precious flees the horrors of her mother’s home, she goes to the only safe place she knows: the school. Ms. Rain takes her into her own love-filled home until Precious is able to get into a halfway house.
Gabourey Sidibe, above all, absolutely shone. She tried to avoid dealing with the horrors of her life by escaping into fantasy. Not until she is suspended from the junior high school she attends, and encouraged by the principal to attend an alternative school, does she begin to avoid escapism and face things full-on. Precious starts to come out of her shell, warmed by the love and acceptance of her teacher and the other people who come into her life. But the blows keep on coming, and you wonder how long this stolid young woman is going to be able to keep on standing on her feet.
I can’t say enough good things about this movie. It’s agonizingly painful to watch. There are a few scenes that struck a chord with me because of my experiences as a child welfare worker, and it brought back a lot of memories. And I’ve spent plenty of my life escaping into fantasy, not because of the experiences Precious had, but because of the blows that life has dealt to me. But the hope that is blown from a spark into a fire will resonate with every viewer.
On Saturday I saw a play where the frequent refrain was, “There was hope! There is hope! There will always be hope!” The same refrain could be quoted at the end of this movie. “There was hope! There is hope! There will always be hope!”
It takes a lot of talent to turn something so ugly into something so beautiful. Kudos to all the people who worked on this movie.