Monday, 17 October 2011


“Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime” - Herbert Ward

Yesterday we watched quite a confronting and emotionally draining film, which nevertheless was very good and definitely worth seeing. It was Lee Daniels 2009 film “Precious”, starring Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique and Paula Patton, with supporting roles provided by Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz. It is based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire, from which Geoffrey Fletcher has produced a very good screenplay that makes for a powerful, hard-hitting film.

The plot centres on Clareece “Precious” Jones (Gubarey Sidibe) is an illiterate, obese 16-year-old black girl that lives in Harlem with her mother (Mo'Nique), who is abusive and depends on welfare to survive. Precious has one young daughter with Down’s Syndrome, who lives with her grandmother and is pregnant with another child, both fathered by her mother’s boyfriend, who is also Precious’s father. Her mother loses no opportunity to tell her how stupid and worthless she is and constantly hits her and throws things at her. Other children taunt her because she is fat and “stupid”. Precious has become hardened lacks social skills and although she has an active mind she is uneducated. Her mother compels her to cook for her she often fantasises about having a boyfriend, being a glamorous and well-known star.

Precious manages to find an alternative school that her teacher recommends and despite opposition by her mother she begins to attend it. Miss Rains (Paula Patton) is an attractive, intelligent and sensitive teacher who cares for her class takes a special interest in Precious and manages to stir within her a yearning to learn. Her classmates who all have problems of their own become supportive friends for Precious. Lenny Kravitz plays a male nurse and Mariah Carey plays a welfare worker, both minor roles, but provide good support. The acting by both Gubarey Sidibe and Mo’Nique is exceptional and they give performances that make the film believable and almost documentary-like in its stark bleakness. Mo’Nique especially as Precious’s mother delivers an acting punch that hits the viewer right in the stomach. Her fnal monologue is quite amazing.

This is no superficial film that is meant to inspire and uplift. It isn’t a rag to riches story nor is it emotionally manipulative or a guilt trip. However, it is a movie that is realistic, gritty and unfortunately so true in so many of the topics it touches. The abuse, rape and robbing of the childhood Precious is subjected to is too often reported in news stories and written about in the papers. This is grim reality that cuts and burns. Although the film ends in a higher note than it started, it is only so relatively speaking as Precious has a plethora of new problems to deal with. It is a film that exposes a multitude of social ills and highlights the plight of many marginalised teenagers who have to deal with incest, teenage pregnancy, illiteracy, abuse and poor living conditions.

One of the main theme of the film is love and its lack on many levels and with different intents. The miseries that loveless individuals experience and the extreme behaviours they exhibit in order to bring love into their lives is a shocking revelation. Daniels sheds light into dark depths of the soul of his anti-heroes and manages to inject optimism into even the direst of circumstances. This is no ordinary “feel-good” movie and even if one expected the ending, it is no happy ending even though it is an optimistic one.

It’s gritty and tough, it’s real and raw, it’s a film that bites and burns. We watched it and we were depressed and uplifted, shocked and made angry. It is challenging and emotionally confronting. However, we do recommend it as a film to be watched…


  1. This was a heart-breaking movie, but I agree with you Nicholas, I also highly recommend it. It does highlight the plight of a huge proportion of the population in what was once described as the richest country in the world with the highest standard of living... No more, I guess.

  2. Sounds like a good film to watch Nic!!! I'll put it on my list.....