A “Precious” Gem

Although toned down comparably from the book Push by Sapphire, the novel’s film adaptation, Precious, leaves viewers walking away and examining their own lives.

The odds of making it are truly stacked against 16-year-old Claireece Precious Jones, who is overweight, illiterate and impregnated by her father twice. But, most importantly, she is a gem trying to survive a hellish living situation. Living in an impoverished neighborhood in Harlem, she is truly a child of circumstance, assigned to a mundane state equipped with toxic parents who expect and enable her failure.

When she is booted out of junior high for her pregnancy and bad grades, the teen mother (played by Gabourey Sidibe) finds refuge in writing and a new environment-an alternative school for fellow troubled girls. The class is made up of eight young women, some of them mothers, some addicts, and all desperate for their GEDs. Their backgrounds are different, but their end goal is ultimately the same-to escape.

Precious’s teacher Ms. Rain (played by Paula Patton) and her social worker Mrs. Weiss (played by a less-than-glamorous Mariah Carey) help Precious find her voice.

However, it is not that easy. Her mother Mary (Mo’Nique) makes every attempt to prove to Precious how unworthy she is.

In one classroom scene, Ms. Rain asks Precious what she is good at, and she struggles to find an answer. “Everyone’s good at something,” says Rain, but as the story progresses the audience sees exactly what Precious is good at- persevering. For the sake of her two children, she commits to pulling herself out of the mud.

The film addresses many modern struggles.

Issues of self-worth and self-esteem are prevalent, and the true meaning of love is a constant search for Precious. The movie also sheds light on tougher issues like incest, teen pregnancy, illiteracy and homelessness.

Sidibe, who is native of the Bed-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, delivers in this movie as Precious. Her character is a brick, forced to fight through obstacles and be tough. This makes it easy to lose sight of the fact that she is a child. Flashbacks and the mentioning of her dreams are what bring her youth back to focus and show how gentle she is.

As Precious’ mom, Mo’Nique steps away from her typical image as a sassy, funny lady and puts on the shoes of an emotionally unstable and abusive welfare mother. Her performance is phenomenal. Her transformation matches Charlize Theron’s Oscar-award winning portrayal of Aileen Wuornos in the film Monster.

Precious is a definite conversation starter that everyone should see. The film is bound to teach audiences how to pull through even the most impossible of situations.