Sunday, May 17, 2009

Precious (2009)

Set in Harlem in 1987, it is the story of Claireece "Precious" Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), a sixteen-year-old African-American girl born into a life no one would want. She's pregnant for the second time by her absent father; at home, she must wait hand and foot on her mother (Mo'Nique), a poisonously angry woman who abuses her emotionally and physically. School is a place of chaos, and Precious has reached the ninth grade with good marks and an awful secret: she can neither read nor write.

Precious may sometimes be down, but she is never out. Beneath her impassive expression is a watchful, curious young woman with an inchoate but unshakeable sense that other possibilities exist for her. Threatened with expulsion, Precious is offered the chance to transfer to an alternative school, Each One/Teach One. Precious doesn’t know the meaning of "alternative," but her instincts tell her this is the chance she has been waiting for. In the literacy workshop taught by the patient yet firm Ms. Rain (Paula Patton), Precious begins a journey that will lead her from darkness, pain and powerlessness to light, love and self-determination.

Official Site and Trailer

Precious is based on the book Pushed, by Sapphire. It's a fine, harrowing read. Available in print and audio-cassette (latter read by the author)

5/17/09: This movie is not released yet but promises to be a big hit. It tackles important issues. The toll of child abuse is terrible in that it stymies a child and creates physically and mentally handicapped individuals. The happy ending mentioned above may be the exception to the rule.

11/6/09: Precious
was released to great media hype. A.O. Scott's review in the Times is worth reading.

12/20/09 Precious is playing locally and I saw it tonight. I was surprised how closely it adhered to the book. This is an extraordinary film and a very important one. It's a must see, in my opinion. Probably the best movie I've seen in 2009. It did not pander to the marketplace. Raises many uncomfortable questions. It is not just "entertainment" but opens up a discussion about child sexual abuse.

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