Saturday, November 7, 2009

Reflections on Precious

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire has swept the festival circuit everywhere, touted as this year's Slumdog Millionaire. To me, Slumdog Millionaire was a fairytale about people in dire circumstances. Precious is a horror story about people in dire circumstances. And when I say horror, I mean something not of "mainstream" consciousness--all the bad things in this world you don't want to think about. It's raw, painful, and real. Precious is a 16 year-old girl who has suffered horribly at the hands of people who should have loved her the most. The victim of sexual abuse, incest, physical and emotional abuse, the mother of two children by her father, and HIV positive, it's a wonder Precious has survived. Seemingly at the brink of hopelessness, Precious gains new perspective when she receives help from a dedicated teacher at an alternative school and begins to create a better life for herself and her children.

I must say Mo'Nique was very brave in taking the role of Precious's mother, and director Lee Daniels equally daring in casting her. The mother is vile and unredeemable. And through her total toxicity, we see how seemingly insurmountable the obstacles are for a child in that circumstance. Mariah Carey does a good job too as a social worker who learns the whole truth about Precious's home life. In addition to drawing out these powerful performances, Daniels uses the film as social commentary on other matters facing the African-American community--namely our relationship with food. I have never seen such unattractive depictions of food. Everything Precious and her mother eat is fried or stewed in a vat of grease. A nurse (played by Lenny Kravitz--the sexiest nurse I've ever seen) tells Precious she should try to eat organic rather than go to McDonald's all the time. There's a lot here to think about.

I cried for what Precious was going through. But I wasn't sad. Precious got up every day, she took steps to educate herself, and she found good people to love and help her. We are all precious.

Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. [Isaiah 43:4]

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