Precious [2009]

Despite what you may think, ‘Precious’ is not really a film… there is no real entertainment/enjoyment to be taken from Claireece ‘Precious’ Jones’ story, and if you have plans on sitting there with your popcorn and soda and kicking back, you’d be very wrong to do so in my opinion.

Precious is a roller-coaster ride of emotions which will have you in tears one moment, and inwardly smiling at something Precious has said a mere thirty seconds later.

This is the first film that I have sat in where I have seen people shouting at the cinema screen and gasping in horror at some of the more abusive scenes. A lot of the plot twists hit you like a freight train, I had several ‘heart-in-my-mouth’  moments whilst watching the film.


In 1987, obese, illiterate, black 16-year-old Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) lives in the New York City neighborhood of Harlem with her dysfunctional family; she has been raped and impregnated twice by her father, Carl, and suffers constant physical, mental and sexual abuse from her unemployed mother, Mary (Mo’Nique). The family resides in a Section 8 tenement and subsists on welfare. Her first child, known only as “Mongo” (short for “Mongoloid”), has Down Syndrome and is being cared for by Precious’s grandmother.

After Precious becomes pregnant for the second time, she is suspended from school. Her junior high school principal, Mrs. Lichtenstein (Nealla Gordon) arranges to have her attend an alternative school, which she hopes can help Precious change her life’s direction. Precious fights to find a way out of her traumatic daily existence through imagination and fantasy. While she is being raped by her father, she looks at the ceiling and imagines herself in a music video shoot; in the video, she is the superstar and the focus of attention. While looking in photo albums, she imagines the pictures talking to her ( the picture of her mother tells her she is a bitch, and other fantasies are ruined by the appearance of her mother, as well )

When she looks in the mirror, she sees a pretty, white, thin, blonde girl. In her mind there is another world, one in which, unlike her real one, she is loved and appreciated.

I would really recommend you watch this film if you get chance to do so – I try and support a lot of charities that deal with several of the subject matters that are explored in ‘Precious’, and can personally draw the odd minor parallel with the film (albeit they pale into gross insignificance!)  and so this touched on a few raw nerves with me.

Whilst in the cinema, I was fine, but once I came back out into the ‘real world’, I started thinking quite a lot and it really gave me an appreciation of what I have and where I’ve come to. It made me resolve to try a lot harder at a few things, and really did make me realise that we as a society need to come together a lot more and work to fight such terrible living conditions for people, especially children.

In a way, I wish that they’d moved the story into present-day, as I didn’t really see the benefit or any reference points for keeping the story set in 1987. I was born in 1985, and an awful lot has changed in my lifetime… but in reality, these types of issues are only getting more and more prominent.

I thought that the quality of acting in ‘Precious’ was phenomenal. It had seemed strange, and I had wondered why Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) hadn’t been nominated for an Oscar but yet Mo’Nique who plays her abusive mother had been, but on seeing the film, I very quickly realised why. Mo’Nique’s acting skills in this film are really pushed to the limit and I thought she did an outstanding job… I managed to go from absolutely loathing her character at the start, to feeling just a little tiny tiny bit sorry for her at the end, despite her unforgivable failings as a mother.

I am not usually a Mariah Carey fan (bar Christmas time!) but even so, I thought that she gave a commendable performance in this piece, and I am sure that there are people across the world sighing exclamations of relief that someone who is renowned for being so pretty and being a bit of a pin-up actually really just looks just like the rest of us!

I am surprised that it took quite a bit of work ‘behind the scenes’ to get this film such a wide release as it now has (it opened nationwide in the UK on 29th January 2010). Thanks to some promotional help by Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey, they managed to get this distributed via Lions Gate Entertainment, but it was a close call! In the end, ‘Precious’ had twelve, yes twelve!, producers on board!

At the time of writing this post, Precious has a remarkable 91% on the usually slightly jaded which is surely testament to how awesome a piece of cinema ‘Precious’ actually is.

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About Gari

Northern lad; living out in the Peak District and rediscovering life after having had a brain tumour.

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