Socialist Worker

Precious: a movie that shows the value of our everyday battles

by Despina Mavrou
Issue No. 2187

Gabourey Sidibe as Precious

Gabourey Sidibe as Precious

I had to suppress a cringe when I heard that Mariah Carey and Oprah Winfrey were associated with this film. Surely any movie with those two involved would be a saccharine, fairytaleish, shiny story of impossible optimism?

So when Mariah appeared I was waiting for her to ruin it. She didn’t.

It turns out that if you take away her make up and hair products and limit her entourage to one bodyguard, she can do a decent job.

Now that’s out of the way – the film. Sixteen year old Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) is pregnant with her second child – by her father.

She is overweight, practically illiterate, has never had a boyfriend and lives with her abusive mother (Mo’Nique).

There is little escape from the horrors of Precious’ life in 1980s Harlem. When things get too harsh, she wanders into a fantasy world where she’s a star walking the red carpet or being photographed.

She is kicked out of school because she’s pregnant, but given the opportunity to go to an “alternative” school.

Her new literacy teacher encourages the class to write daily in their notebooks, and promises to write back to them.

It is this interaction, as well as conversations with her social worker (Mariah Carey) and a nurse (Lenny Kravitz) that reveal how deprived of options Precious has been in her short but violent life.

Some might think the abuse depicted is exaggerated, but it is more common than many would like to admit.

We should feel angered by a deeply unequal society that condemns people to illiteracy, poor health and bad diet – and drives some to violence.

If you’re looking for escapism, go see something else. But if you need a reminder of why fighting for a better world is necessary, see Precious.

Directed by Lee Daniels
Out now

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Article information

Tue 2 Feb 2010, 19:19 GMT
Issue No. 2187
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