Precious

Issue section: 
(344)

Director Lee Daniels, Release date: out now

Precious is based on the novel Push by Sapphire. The film opens in Harlem, 1987, showing Claireece "Precious" Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) at school. Her class doesn't seem to want to learn; it's a stereotypical disruptive group of school kids.

Precious is pregnant for the second time by her absent and abusive father, who is shown graphically raping her while her mother walks past the bedroom.

Her home life is filled with pain and stress as her mother (played by Mo'Nique) abuses her mentally and physically, making her feel worthless and trapped.

Precious's mother just wants her to bring some money into the household by getting off to the welfare office to claim benefits but Precious wants to get educated.

She has been told about a new alternative school, called "Each One Teach One", and wants to give it a try. She wants to be a great mother to her children and a different person to her own mother. Over time you see her new teacher, Ms Rain, building a trust and friendship with Precious, which gives her the reassurance for the first time that someone does care about her and she is not worthless.

Throughout the film Precious daydreams about being famous and having a light-skinned boyfriend, something that she wishes she had: "If I could choose what I looked like, I would have light skin and long hair."

She shows the pressure black girls are under to feel that you can't be pretty if your skin is too dark or you don't straighten your hair.

But it is noticeable that everyone who helps Precious in the film, like Ms Rain, has lighter skin than her.

When Precious decides she can no longer live with her mum and finds herself homeless, Ms Rain even takes her into her home to look after her.

The other character seen to try and help is Precious's social worker (played by Mariah Carey). There is a heartbreaking scene where the social worker tries to reunite Precious with her mother because she has not yet discovered the real extent of the abuse and tension within the household.

This is a heart-wrenching story. It is so graphic that sometimes I felt in shock, it was as if I was inside the film and part of the scenes. It had me in suspense, but it also filled me with hope.