Take one part Oprah, one part Tyler Perry, and one giant part Mo'Nique, and you've got Lee Daniels' Precious-- and it will tear you apart. I'm not a huge girly girl, but I was bawling ten minutes into the film. Precious isn't just sad, it's downright abysmal.
For those of you out there who have no idea what I'm talking about, Precious is a film based on the novel Push by Sapphire, a former Harlem public school teacher-cum-novelist. It is a fictionalized account of her experiences teaching inner city youth. Push achieved every author's wet dream of success when it was inducted into Oprah's Book Club.
Precious, played by a riveting Gabourey Sidibe, is the title character of the film who may quite possibly be the unluckiest girl in history. She's overweight, has an abusive mother, two children fathered by her own father, and she's illiterate. I don't want to spoil the rest of the film--- but things go kind of downhill from there. Frankly, her story makes those starving children in Somalia look pretty well off.
When Precious gets kicked out of school for being pregnant, she starts attending an alternative school called "Each One, Teach One," where she meets her beautiful lesbian mentor/teacher Blu Rain (Paula Patton), who encourages her to keep a journal where she can jot down her inner most thoughts.
Her thoughts are interludes of fantasy sequences from handsome boyfriends and a loving mother to nightmarish flashbacks of an abuse ridden past. Daniels effectively emphasizes the differences of both in his film making, switching from light-hearted music numbers during her fantasies to gritty realism during the rape scenes. Well, I assume he did. I had to cover my eyes during the latter.
The biggest surprise in Precious, though, is her mother Mary, played by the insanely talented Mo'Nique (no, I never thought I'd say that ever) who won a special grand jury prize at Sundance for her role. You have never seen a woman so broken, so sadistic, so in pain, and so out of touch with the world around her. It's uncanny really and quite masterful. For anyone who has ever thought acting was easy, Mo'nique is a force that will convince you otherwise. She may be the best and most convincing reason to spend $12.
I've found that people generally are really eager to see the film or totally dread it. In today's culture, there is no shortage of depressing things, so this is not the film for those of you who need an upper or are already suicidal.
Why was I so eager to see Precious?
Easy. Oprah is God. And everything she touches is precious.