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Precious (2009)

"Before viewing" talks don't have spoilers, but since there's no "After viewing" talk for this one, comments may have spoilers. More»» by Randy Heffner

Is the film worth your time?

Engaging, heart-wrenching, real, and strong, Precious delves deeply into dark places where our need for love collides with poverty — poverty of money, of spirit, of love, and of character. In the midst of the collision what chance has a child to see any goodness, truth, or beauty? The darkness will destroy some children — maybe even most children. Yet somehow, as if testimony to a miracle, some hold inside a small light. The light flickers and is easily blown out. Who will step in to protect the light? How can anyone — or even, can anyone — unwind the damage done to a child’s soul? How can love get in to break the bars of prison that can’t be seen?

All of the performances are outstanding as is the overall filmcraft. Whether we’ve already been there or not, the places Precious takes us are places that we need to go. It might help us find and extricate some of the poverty hidden beneath our riches. It’ll help us ask what’s our part in finding and protecting the miraculous light. And if we look closely, it might soften our hatred by showing us a glimpse of the mixed up fear that can create a horrid perpetrator. Mostly, it will show us a bit of the light, which is why it is well worth the time to live through the darkness in Precious (a.k.a. Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire).

Claireece ‘Precious’ Jones is sixteen, overweight, illiterate, and pregnant — by her absentee father. She is being kicked out of school, but also she’s being given a chance at an alternative school. Her abusive, domineering, lazy mother wants none of it. She’s convinced that Precious is incapable of learning, and she tells this to Precious every chance she gets. The prison of her life has turned Precious inward: she says very little and expresses very little emotion. Her future rests on whether the alternative school — where the other students dish out their own forms of abuse — is a new start or just the next thing that happens in her life. Running time: 110 min.

The conflicts of the film result from physical abuse and incest, both of which are shown on screen (although the scene of incest is not graphic). Language throughout. The film is intense.

  • Director: Lee Daniels
  • Screenplay: Geoffrey Fletcher, based on novel by Sapphire
  • Leads: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey
  • Cinematography: Andrew Dunn
  • Music: Mario Grigorov

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