Precious- film review (2010)

Film review from University, in hindsight I appreciate the film may evoke strong feelings given the subject matter. It is a powerful film and a film I still think of with great importance. It has no baring on survivor experiences and is purely a review on the film at the time of it coming out.


Set in Harlem, New York in 1987, Precious manages to explore – with honesty and courage – many issues including abuse, sexuality and poverty in quite a short space of time. It is a raw but moving fi lm based on the novel Push by American author and performance poet Sapphire. And although this can make the viewing quite intense at times, don’t be misled – this is more than just another trag-lit movie. Precious is the story of 16-yearold Claireece “Precious” Jones, played by unknown actress Gabourey Sidibe, who lives with her abusive mother and is faced with the prospect of her second child, conceived as a result of her father’s sexual abuse. The fi lm was deservedly nominated for six oscars, winning Best Supporting Actress for comedienne and chat show host Mo’Nique and Best Adapted Screenplay. Mo’Nique also won a Golden Globe award for her powerful performance as Claireece’s abusive mother. However, the fi lm’s success has to be attributed to the thoughtprovoking writing and screenplay which is so clever and original that it captivates and enables the viewer to share in the characters’ anxiety and despair. With the use of clever plot devices, you share in Claireece’s fantasies and escapism as well as her hope that there is a better life for her outside the closed walls and private hell created for her by her parents. And whilst your are on this journey you also share in her invisibility of what it is to come from an abusive family. This fi lm has a defi nite behind closed doors feel to it, from the insight into Claireece’s mind to the before and after scenes of when the social worker visits the family. Later on in the fi lm, Claireece fi nally has to speak out against her hidden home life and begins to attend an alternative school. It is here that the fi lm takes on a tender meaning and will also echo situations that anyone working in education or with children and young people will recognise. The role of Claireece’s classmates and her caring tutor change this fi lm from gritty and raw, to a story of determinism and inspiration. If you have seen or heard any of the promotion for the fi lm, you will probably know that Mariah Carey drabs down and sheds her vocal range and heels to play a husky and frustrated social worker. Her appearance is somewhat overrated as she only makes two fairly brief appearances. But she brings an unexpected sincerity to her role and provides a sympathetic and dare I say likeable character. In all fairness, the appearance of Carey is not hugely signifi cant to the role but if it gains the fi lm the attention and notoriety it deserves then it can only be a good thing. Sometimes this fi lm is uncomfortable to watch and contains graphic scenes of sexual abuse which are defi nitely not for the easily offended. But if you can overcome this then Precious is provoking, brave and will live on in your mind for days after. However dark it gets, it is littered with rays of light that will have you chuckling when you know you shouldn’t. It would be nice to have seen this fi lm shown more nationally as very few cinemas dedicated space to it. However, it defi nitely has the potential to become a cult success and do for issue of child abuse what Trainspotting did for substance abuse


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