If there is a film that has earned a bad reputation this year, it is Precious. I cannot tell you how many people I’ve spoken to who have said that they won’t see Precious because it seems “too sad.” What a poor excuse to not see a movie that is one hundred percent the most beautiful film of the year.
Based on the novel Push, Precious tells the story of Claireece “Precious” Jones. The year is 1987 and Precious lives in Harlem with her abusive mother Mary. Precious has already given birth to a child by her father, and is now pregnant with another by him. She is illiterate, angry, and unbeknownst to her, HIV positive.
While the foundation for Precious is gloomy, it is the film’s progression that is full of so much hope, love, and sheer magnificence. Precious is a film about the power of love and compassion. To be more specific, it is about how the power of womanhood and how unity, affection, and self-expression can overcome any form of pain and hatred.
With all of Precious’ physical pain and hardship, the greatest sorrow she has in her life is her inability to read and write. Her mother tells her that school won’t put food on the table, and since that is the only woman she listens to, she believes it.
For Precious, it requires another voice for her to believe in the possibilities that the world can offer. This other voice comes from Miss Rain, Precious’ teacher at her new alternative school. She teaches Precious how to express her feelings, both the good and the bad, and by doing so, precious is able to decipher how she truly feels and how to have a voice. It is from Ms. Rain that Precious learns how to love as well. Ms. Rain helps Precious assimilate into the classroom and soon enough, Precious has friends and people who care about her.
What stood out to me in this film is that the entire cast is made up of women. Only one man is featured, Nurse John McFadden, and he is not the “traditional” man. Consider his job: he is a nurse, not an obvious field chosen by men. He is different, and director Lee Daniels wants us to see that while men create an immense amount of pain in this world for women, there still are those who generate a lot of love.
More importantly, this is a movie about the power of womanhood. When women bond together, their potential is infinite. Precious is only able to grow through the help and love of others. When nobody is there to guide her, she becomes detached, scared, and depressed.
The film is comprised of so much poignancy that it can be emotionally overwhelming. While Daniels constantly punches us in the gut with reminders of Precious’ distress, he fills up the screen with more moments that make us smile, laugh, and cry. Sometimes those tears are created by sadness, but more often than not they are brought about because we are so easily drawn into this story. We are meant to care for not only Precious, but all the girls who are unloved and abused.
I cannot stress the importance of seeing this film. It contains all the elements of a great film: larger than life story, outstanding acting (the best ensemble of actors this year), brilliant imagery, reverence for film as an art form, and an emotional force that has not been matched by any other film this year. Do yourself a favor and get lost in this film, just as I did.