Friday, January 1, 2010


The Film: Precious

The Actors: Gabourey Sidebe, Mo'Nique, yeah, Mariah Carey, Paula Patton, Lenny Kravits, Sherri Shepherd

The Dealio: To those of you off-planet in the past 3 months, this is the story of a 16-17 year old girl. That sounded way-simple, but the story is definitely not. Portrayed by Sidebe, Precious, our heroine, is a large, stoic, doughy, complex cipher of a woman. She has been heartbreakingly done-wrong-by. What a world-class understatement! Pregnant for the second time by her father, (she already has a daughter-Mongo- with Downs' Syndrome), living with a resentful, vicious, vindictive, abusive ignoramus of a mother, the only consistent message in her life is not 'Yes, you can', but 'No, you can't, you dummy...and why would you even want to try?'
From the very first scene, we are let into Precious' real life. Her internal life. The single facet of her existence which allows her to feel possibilities, hope and power-not yet realised, to be sure, but there, none the less. Not since the feather-weight movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has a more reliable, fully realised, subversive inner life been depicted. It is this which stokes Precious' hidden strength and enables her to get up each day to take care of the ordinary business of life, as oppressive and dark as that may be. Is.
In some reviews of this movie, I have read that there is a great, 'uplifting' positive ending to the piece. To me, there is not, unless you judge the positives using a pretty steep grading curve. And that is when it hit me: the movie itself was like Precious' life: full of moments of unrelenting tragedy and violence, but made more palatable by the instants-surely no more than fleeting moments- when a beam of light shows through. And there were notable moments: a guidance counsellor seeing through her iron reserve to the needy woman within and moving her forward in her goal to get an education and make something of herself. A teacher who challenges her, then challenges her again and again-and helps her to meet her challenges and tune-up the way she looks not only at herself, but at the outside world. Incredibly empowering, involving and uplifting. So, yeah. Guess you have to grab your uplifts and positives where you can.
I actually had to pick a day to see this movie. Pick a day when I felt 'up' enough not to carry this movie around with me like a lead weight for weeks. Well, that plan was only partially successful, because I have carried this movie around with me ever since seeing it. Each time I think about it, I gain new insight, find new facets, am moved more deeply, unexpectedly.

The Grading Session: 4.83 pengies out of 5. This is not a movie for people offended by raw language and situations. There are so many in this film. However, it is pretty much a done deal that Sidebe will get a nom, if not an actual Oscar for her complex, touching portrayal. Mo'Nique will also probably get a nod in the supporting category. She deserves it.
Hated the music- which is a major consideration for me. And, as a nurse, I baulked a bit at Lenny Kravitz' characters statement in the film: ' I am a nurse. A nurses' aide.' OK...which is it? These are not synonymous terms, so clarify. I was just surprised the writers didn't make him a doc.

Lessons Learned: Dwell in the realm of possibility. It may save your (internal and external) life. Literally. Without the hope, the fantasy, the ideal to guide us, where is the motivation to continue to get up and surge forward? Word.

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