LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

Thursday, November 12, 2009

WATCH IT! "PRECIOUS: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire" Movie Review


"PRECIOUS: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire"
Welcome to Her Urban Jungle...  


     In 1987 Harlem, a morbidly obese, illiterate 16-year old black girl named Claireece, nicknamed Precious (Gabourey Sidibe), finds herself expecting her second baby-- by her own father.  She lives in a decaying apartment with her seriously abusive, welfare-dependent mother (Mo'Nique).  At school, things aren't better.  In a chaotic, crowded classroom, Precious is teased by her restless peers who aren't capable of concentrating on what's on the blackboard-- or, equally likely, just don't care.  The girl's escape is via music video-style fantasies where she imagines herself as a model, a movie star, a singer, etc.  Despite being trapped in a body, a home, and a noisy neighborhood which she can't escape from, we know that Precious is smarter than that.  For one thing, she's interested in math.  A shred of hope comes when Precious gets gets a rare chance to go to an "alternative school" with small classes, led by an attractive, smart, dedicated teacher (Paula Patton) who we learn, later, is a lesbian.  The audience moves along with Precious through her s-l-o-w struggle to learn to read-- often one letter at a time-- and through the delivery of her second baby.  For the first time ever in the movie, we start to see some emotions on Precious' mask-like face.  Unfortunately, not all those emotions are good ones: The movie's titular character continues to deal with many serious issues, not the least of which is a newly-diagnosed HIV status.

     The performances from all the actors in "Precious" are stunning.  Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz play (excellently) against their artistic personas, as a social worker with wash 'n' wear hair and wardrobe to match; and a charismatic male nurse, respectively.  Mo'Nique's character is such an unrepentant monster that her performance borders on camp: sort of a ghetto "Mommie Dearest". (At one point she carries on that she can't eat her pigs' feet because Precious didn't make collard greens to go with them.)  Despite the dark themes of abuse, teen pregnancy, incest and more (And make no mistake: This is NOT a kid's movie.), "Precious" has many life-affirming scenes, and the film is not without some levity.  The girl's high-spirited classmates, who become her surrogate family, offer some really funny moments.  There are even a couple of "in jokes": Oprah Winfrey, who co-produced, is mentioned by name and is seen on one of those ubiquitous '80's "READ!" posters; and Precious questions Mariah Carey's character about her race. This movie may be fiction, and most of the people reading this will never know the kind of life that girls like Precious live.  However, the main character's feelings of being helpless, unloved, and isolated have hit all of us at times.  The silver lining of the movie is the palpable feeling of hope running through.  "Precious" packs a wallop.

     "Precious: based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" is now playing.   


Picture 1: The "Precious" teaser movie poster
Photo 2: Gabourey Sidibe as Precious

Photo 3: Mariah Carey as Ms. Weiss 

No comments:

Post a Comment