The problem with invisible things is that sometimes they’re invisible because we don’twant to know about them. Precious depicts the harrowing story of illiterate, obese, single mother and incestual rape victim Clareece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) and her life in Harlem – a far cry from the average box-office protagonist.
Director Lee Daniels has transposed the1996 novel Push by Sapphire to film inorder to bring an “invisible” class story to the big screen, rather than relegating African-American experiences to typical “black” roles, like zany side-kicks (Rush Hour), hallowed historical figures (Ray), or sage old-timers(Million Dollar Baby).
The result is a film that challenges and confronts us, by showing usa perspective we rarely see. Precious’ life is a constant complication and it’s hard to watch. After bearing one mentally and physically retarded child by her father, she lives with her abusive mother(an incredible and multi-award-winning performance by Mo’Nique) who is jealous of the “attention” her partner bestows on Precious. She force-feeds the already obese girl, berates her stupidity, and pressures her to drop out of school and get a welfare cheque. When she is kicked out of her school for being pregnant again (also by her father) Precious is given a rare chance: her Principal puts her forward for a special school, where “troubled young women” can finish their education. For the first time in her life, Precious is given positive affirmation, and the chance to improve her situation.
Despite an ultimately triumphant message, much of the film feels unrelentingly bleak; however, if Daniels doesn’t let in much light, there is no reason why he should. Precious is based on a harrowing true story, but it’s powerful, moving and true and it’s important that people see it, rather than live in the silver screen dream that mainstream cinema unrelentingly presents.