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Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2008)


I Wish I Had a Light-Skinned Boyfriend With Real Nice Hair

I don’t understand why some people go into a movie saying “Depress the shit out of me, movie”, but they do. I generally avoid dramas because I prefer to go into a movie and either feel uplifted by a nice story or entertained by cool action. I have liked a couple of dramas in the past, but mostly they just depress me. Today’s movie doesn’t only depress me, it beats me over the head with sadness. And I pretty much knew this would happen, so I did all I could to avoid it. When I mistakenly walked into a conversation between my friend Fabian and someone else and heard it was about this movie, I knew what was coming: review request. And then I was trapped. Trapped by nothing but my stubbornness and desire to write reviews at the request of people who may or may not read them. This movie was Precious, which is apparently based on a novel named Push by someone named Sapphire, written by Damien Paul, directed by Lee Daniels, and starring Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Stephanie Andujar, Chyna Layne, Amina Robinson, Xosha Roquemore, Sherri Shepherd, Mariah Carey, and Lenny Kravitz.

We follow the life of Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), who has a bad life that gets worse and worse. Check this out. She’s obese and illiterate. She lives at home with her mom, Mary Lee Johnston (Mo’Nique), who is abusive, both mentally and physically. She’s pregnant with her second kid, fathered by her father. The first child has Down syndrome and lives with her grandmother and comes to visit only when they need to play up the good family thing for more money from the government. This is the bad life part we start at. Let’s get worse. She gets kicked out of school and starts attending an alternative school, taught by Ms. Blu Rain (Paula Patton). Her mom also makes her go to Miss Weiss (Mariah Carey) to try to get welfare instead of wasting her time with school. Precious begins to learn how to read, and then pops out the kid. Mom doesn’t take kindly to the child, and throws it onto the couch, then the battle of the Goliaths begins, ending with Precious running off with her baby, falling down the stairs, and narrowly avoiding a TV dropped by her mom. Add in some AIDS and you got yourself Precious.

I wouldn’t say this movie is a bad movie, but it’s a movie I’ll do well to never have to watch again. The story of this movie beats the shit out of you with horrible situations to the point where I numerous times thought to myself, “Christ, I get it! Her life sucks! Got it!!” It’s a fine enough flick with a nice message of overcoming adversity at the end, but that little bit of Precious deciding to go off on her own with her kids and probably continue school did not counteract the fact that her father raped those two kids into her. I know the movie was supposed to be a drama, but it seemed to push it further than that and go more into the over the top melodrama. I’m sure horrible people like the ones in this movie exist, but I don’t want to watch a movie about them. And besides just having a story I didn’t want to see, it was all filmed in a way I didn’t want to see either. The cast of the movie was not an attractive bunch, and even the attractive people in the movie such as Mariah Carey weren’t allowed any make up. Mariah Carey and Paula Patton still looked good, but they weren’t in it that much. Instead you had Mo’Nique in a skin-tight leotard dancing with her unshaven pits front and center. I understand this was done for added realism, but it just didn’t make me want to look at it at all.

The performances were pretty good, and probably the only reason this movie should be paid any attention. Gabourey Sidibe was pretty shut off from the real world for the majority of the movie and only showed any kind of emotion in escapism dream sequences. In actual reality, she didn’t show emotion until the time her second child was born, about an hour into the movie. She remained pretty distant still, but had a few moments when she opened up and showed why she got the attention she did for this movie. Mo’Nique also got a good deal of attention for this movie for making one of the most despicable characters on film. She performed the character very well, but you hate the character so much. You kind of feel for her at the end when you find that she treated Precious so badly out of jealousy, because her husband wanted Precious and not her. Deeply flawed logic to explain inexcusable acts, but she wasn’t a bright character so you still kind of feel for her a bit at the end. The character was so dumb that she was totally sure she didn’t get AIDS from her husband (who gave AIDS to Precious) because they never did anal. Paula Patton had some good performance moments as well. It was Brave-ish for Mariah Carey to go into this movie without make-up, but I actually found her attractive for the first time without all the fake glamor of her musical persona. She didn’t do a whole lot to impress me in her performance though. She didn’t bring the movie down or anything, she just didn’t do very much.

Before you get the wrong impression of my feelings about the movie, I do think this was a pretty good movie. The story went way overboard with the melodrama, but it had a good meaning to it, and the performances really made the movie. Can I say I think you should watch it? No, not really. It’s a kind of miserable road to travel just to get the meaning and to see the performances. Plus, I already told you the meaning. If you think your life is bad and you’ll never be able to come out on top of it, well this chick did it and hers is worse. I don’t know who’s reading this or what they’re going through, but Precious went through worse, so stop complaining and overcome that shit, or find yourself hijacking a bucket of chicken. Precious gets “Who else was going to make me feel good about myself?” out of “My favorite color is fluorescent beige”.

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