I remember Sapphire's 1996 novel, Push, on which this movie is based, as being unrelentingly heavy. An illiterate 300-pound girl, pregnant for the second time at 16 with her father's child, is subject to an ugly sack of abuse by the depraved father, by her angry mother, and by strangers who see her size as an invitation to assault her verbally, sometimes physically.

The movie, Precious, still weighty, has moments of lightness, especially in the girls-only classroom of the last-chance school Precious attends. Thrown together, Precious and her classmates form an unlikely fabric, a safety net that catches and holds them all. Without getting all preachy, those scenes suggest what Precious will come to learn: that education is the way out of her particular hell.
Gabourey Sidibe brings intelligence and growing awareness to her sullen, illiterate Precious. The comic Mo'nique is a powerfully vile and monstrous mother. Lenny Kravitz has a small role as a sympathetic nurse. Paula Patton has an impossibly decent role as the saintly teacher. Mariah Carey, who plays the social worker, should stick to singing. And is that the novel's author who has a cameo in the daycare scene at the end?
Lee Daniels directed. Oprah and Tyler Perry produced.
See it!


Karen Miranda Augustine said...

I've been a fan of Sapphire's poetry and fiction since "American Dreams." So nice to consistently hear that the movie does her novel Push justice.

Thanks Joanne for mentioning such an important work on your blog. You really rock!


Chris Rywalt said...

Oprah and Perry came on after the movie was made, mainly to get it distributed.

This movie looks to me like "Crash", one of those everyone says is awesome and it wins all kinds of awards, then the backlash begins and people start trashing it. Almost no one said anything bad about "Crash", and now you can't find anyone to say anything good about it.

"A Christmas Carol" was, by the way, surprisingly good. Zemeckis kept a lot of Dickens' language and the animated characters only sometimes look creepy.

I like movies. Sorry to bother anyone.

Joanne Mattera said...

I saw Crash and I thought it was a soap opera. It never should have won anything. It doesn't come near Precious.

Precious is a tragedy with a glimmer of hope. It's a difficult narrative, but eminently worthwhile.

Glad Oprah and Tyler Perry came in when they did (probably after Sundance). I love it when wealthy people use their wealth to promote worthwhile projects.

Lori Buff said...

Thanks for the review, I'm interested in seeing the movie.