Page 26 THE VILLADOM TIMES I & II • December 2, 2009 ‘Precious’ tells the harrowing tale of an abused girl by Dennis Seuling “Precious: Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire,” is a tough film to watch. It is raw, frightening, grim, shocking, and sad. It is also one of the best films of the year. Claireece Precious Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) is an overweight African-American 16-year-old who lives in Harlem in 1987 with her mother, Mary (Mo’Nique). She is pregnant for the second time by her absent father, and endures daily abuse, both physical and emotional, from her poisonously bitter mother. Precious’ day-to-day life is so devastating that, to escape its worst moments, she imagines herself as a celebrity on the red carpet, as the girlfriend of a handsome guy who adores her, or as a beautifully coiffed and attired movie star. Despite her awful family life and bleak circumstances, Precious looks toward a brighter future when her school principal tells her about an alternative school. There, Precious meets a firm but caring teacher, Ms. Rain (Paula Patton), who empathizes with Precious and the myriad problems she’s facing, and works every angle to get her on the road to a better life. The movie is a harrowing portrait of what Precious goes through on a day-to-day basis: fights in school, ridicule on the streets, and horrible abuse at home, the place that should be a haven, but instead is a living hell. Sidibe, plucked from obscurity for this role, is remarkably authentic and convincing as the title character. She manages to imbue Precious with self-assurance and dignity despite Precious (Gabourey Sidibe, left) confides in alternative school teacher Ms. Rain (Paula Patton). being assaulted on all sides by grim circumstances. In the film’s heavy dramatic scenes, she is heart-wrenching and totally real. Precious’ mother Mary, is a chilling portrait of cold emotional abandonment and parental neglect. Rarely has a screen character been so absolutely evil. Rather than protect her daughter as we expect a mother to, she has been an enabler and practitioner of abuse. Scenes highlighting a lifetime of horrific abuse by Mary are filmed with almost documentary-like starkness. The viewer is amazed that anyone -- let alone a teen-age girl -- could have survived such treatment over the course of 16 years. I am certain that Mo’Nique will receive a Best Supporting Actress nomination for this performance. Patton plays Ms. Rain with a combination of assurance and caring, sternness and patience. Ms. Rain conveys a strong sincerity that allows her class members to trust her. She is dealing with a small group of girls who lack sufficient self-discipline to make it in mainstream schools, yet want to learn to read and write so they can get their GED’s and move on. The film shows glimpses of their stories as Precious sees she is not alone in trying to find a way out of tough circumstances. “Precious” is a study of hope over adversity, optimism over depression, action over despair. Despite conditions that would destroy most people, Precious has survived and does whatever she can to thrive. When the alternative school is recommended, no one takes her there in handcuffs. She makes the decision to investigate, and does, despite her mother’s vicious belittling. She learns to trust outsiders, first Ms. Rain and later a social worker (Mariah Carey), who provide the care and nurturing absent throughout her life. Controversy has arisen over the central character -- a young, abused, pregnant black woman living in squalor -as a negative stereotype. I believe the beauty of American cinema is that it is unrestricted in its portrayal of people from all walks of life. Tiptoeing on the egg shells of political correctness would have denied the world such movies as “Midnight Express,” “The Blackboard Jungle,” “The Godfather,” “Che,” and “The Deer Hunter” -- all of which depict people from a specific ethnic group in less-thansparkling light. Rated R for language and scenes of child abuse, “Precious: Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire” stands out because of its undiluted rawness and power. It is not a movie for everyone, and many scenes are difficult to watch, but it pays off in the superb leading performances by Sibide and Mo’Nique and its uplifting theme that, no matter the odds, a person can seize opportunities and pursue a better life. Trackside Bar & Grill Catering 227 Main Street • Butler, NJ 07405 ON - OFF PREMISE CATERING Holiday Parties • Birthdays • Showers • BBQ’s Special Occasions or any of your catering needs. 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