Precious: Based on The Novel Push

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[Film Review]

It's not often where we are presented with a film that is so in your face and gritty in it's depiction of poverty and child abuse that it makes you cringe but yet causes you to ask yourself questions about how can this be and why isn't something being done so that fewer children have to suffer?

The Lee Daniel's produced film "Precious based on Sapphire's 1996 novel Push" does just that.

It stars comedienne and talk show host Monique, Mariah Carey, Paula Patton, Lenny Kravitz and newcomer Gabourey Sibide as the lead character Precious.

Precious is the story of a 16 year old girl named Clareece "Precious" Jones, who is illiterate, and obese. The story takes place in 1987 in Harlem.

Precious is a girl who seems to be ignored by society, seemingly not having a voice of her own. She is a lonely, shy and scared girl when we first meet her in her junior high school class--she has been left back numerous times.

Yet Precious is suffering in silence; pregnant for the second time by her own father, which doesn't sit well with the principal of her school Mrs. Lichenstein, who kicks her out.

As the story moves on we are exposed to Precious's home life where we experience first hand the abuse that she must suffer at the hands of her mother Mary, played by Monique.

At home Precious suffers verbal and physical abuse which includes name calling as well as having dangerous objects such as a cast iron frying pan thrown at her. So you ask how does Precious survive this torment? Well she escapes her reality by slipping into a fantasy world of dreams; dreams of becoming a big star who is loved by everyone--in contrast to the love that she is denied at home.

Yet every time Precious tries to escape into her fantasy world of happiness she is brought back to her harsh reality.

Precious's life begins to change when a social worker, Mrs. Weiss, played by Mariah Carey, encourages her to enroll in an alternative school for girls with educational difficulties.

The first day there she is introduced to her teacher Ms. Rain (Paula Patton), who later mentors Precious, thus helping her find her strength and her voice through writing.

Lee Daniel's who is also the man behind the 2002 film Monster's Ball, for which Halle Berry won the Oscar For Best Actress, directs the characters in Precious in a way in which they are highly believable due to the degree of emotion and passion they display.

The actors give their all in portraying the character: whether it be Precious feeling unloved, and forgotten in the world; to Mary violently abusing Precious for what it seems to be revenge for what Mary believes to be Precious destroying her marriage; to Mrs. Weiss' tough grilling of Mary about why she let the abuse go on for all those years; and, to Ms. Rain serving not only as a mentor and friend to Precious but as a sort of mother figure that Precious never had.

The turning point comes when Precious finds her strength and finally is able to escape the abuse. She finds strength through the guidance of Ms. Rain, and her friend a nurse named John, whom she befriends in the hospital after giving birth to her second child.

From that moment on we have a sense of relief that things will only get better for Precious, only to find out that more trouble lies ahead.

Precious is a story of survival and courage, and at the same time it is also a story of hopelessness and determination.

What I liked about the film is that we really get into Precious's character, and we can feel her pain. We are also pulled into Precious's world to the point that we want to go on her life journey with her.

My only negative would be that there was some confusion, and dull moments between the transition between scenes, in which I feel the climax of those scenes could have be sustained.

Precious is sure to be a major Oscar contender.

Precious is currently in select theaters, and will be released nationwide on November 27, 2009
4 stars

Lundy is a Black Star News Entertainment reporter

Editor's Note: Look for our interview with Gabby Sidibe by Kam Williams on the website tomorrow

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