By Heather Fiore
Flip your world upside down. Imagine being 16, illiterate and pregnant with your second child. To top it off, imagine having a dysfunctional mother who continuously tells you how worthless you are.
This is the life of Claireece Precious Jones. Precious (Gabourey Sidibe) has to face these seemingly impossible tasks every single day in Lee Daniels’ poignant film, Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire.
Residing in a Section 8 tenement in Harlem with her mother, Mary (Mo’Nique, Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins), Precious escapes from her brutally unhealthy and unhappy life through fantasies and imagination. In a household that is barely kept afloat by welfare, Precious strives to be the complete opposite of her mother to her child; she is dedicated, and despite the hardships, has incomparable drive to succeed in something.
Mary, who physically and mentally abuses Precious, is an unfit disgrace of a mother. She deceives her way through welfare, takes her endless frustration out on Precious and neglects her only grandchild.
Mo’Nique hasn’t received much recognition for her acting until this particular role. Popularly known as a comedic television personality, she has the ability to keep you laughing and take on different roles; however, the way she embodies Mary is awe-inspiring. Instead of amusing the audience, Mo’Nique is able to effectively switch sides and capture Mary’s emotionally distraught character. From her basic looks to her intimidating demeanor, Mo’Nique fits the mold of Mary throughout the film.
Sidibe doesn’t trail too far behind Mo’Nique. Although Precious is her acting debut, one would never be able to tell. The way she adapts to Precious’ character exposes a layer of Sidibe’s professionalism. She’s comfortable in front of the camera and supplies the audience with a convincing, heartfelt look inside of a pregnant teen mother’s troubled life.
Precious is forced to enter an alternative school because of her pregnancy and expulsion from school. She learns how to become comfortable in her own skin when she encounters her new teacher, Miss Blu Rain, (Paula Patton, Déjà Vu). Patton is known for her emotional intensity in the characters she plays, especially in her last film, Déjà Vu, alongside Denzel Washington. Her character takes Precious under her wing and works with her accordingly to help her become a better student.
As the film progresses, Daniels peels back layers revealing some unbelievable details of Precious’ life that seem too hard to cope with. Precious’ family social worker, Miss Weiss, played by Mariah Carey, is her ultimate helping hand. Although Carey hasn’t shone on the silver screen (see Glitter), her role as Miss Weiss is moving. She has a connection with Precious and is a dedicated, obliging character.
After generating serious buzz, Precious was nominated for several Academy Awards.
Precious will play tonight and tomorrow in the BLC Theater at 7:30 p.m.