movies

Here is a Place of Disaffection

Precious, Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire is without a doubt the most difficult movie I’ve watched this year.  However, like many things given the Oprah seal of approval, I was left feeling a little disappointed in it. The story is stark and painful, following the trials of Precious Jones, a teenager growing up in mid-80s Harlem. Simultaneously abused and neglected, Precious struggles to raise herself above her environment. But she has much to battle against: a verbally, physically and emotionally abusive mother, a sexually abusive father, a young child with Down Syndrome and a system that continually fails her. When she becomes pregnant with her second child, Precious is expelled from her high school, but finds herself at the door of an alternative program. There, she finds herself blossoming under the care of a concerned teacher and her classmates, a motley crew of rejects like herself, only not quite.

Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe makes her film debut as Precious,  but it is Mo’Nique, as Precious’ mother, Mary, who is the revelation here. She becomes an unsympathetic monster, lashing out at her child for a perverse manifestation of the “love” she has been denied.

I have no doubt that there are souls in this world who have suffered in the ways that Precious does, but several times throughout the film, I felt that the writers of this book and film were piling on when subtlety might have given audiences a reprieve from a harrowing film experience that left the viewer traumatized. This is not an easy subject to be sure, nor should it be treated that way. But there is a point at which the viewer, like Precious, will have to say “Enough!”

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