Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Precious" (Film)

The novel “Push” (written by author, Sapphire) has gained much attention and acclaim in the African American community over the past few years. More recently “Push” has captured the hearts and minds of a broader national audience, the book now on the Top 10 Bestsellers list in 2010. Both the novel and it’s film adaptation titled “Precious” centers around the struggle for hope and survival of a Harlem high school student, C. Precious Jones, a character based on a composite of Sapphire’s real life students in inner city New York. Directed by Lee Daniels, the film translates the novel into a compelling and revealing story of one woman’s ‘push’ for life in a way that is raw, real and yet accessible to mainstream audiences. The film is well done.

When Oprah finished watching the film, she says she was left silent. I too found I had no words to say when the film ended. No critiques or analysis the film running in my head. It just was. So, rather than comment on the film, may I suggest that it simply be watched. {see addendum below}

“Precious” won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress (Mo’nique) and received nominations for Best Picture 2009 and Best Actress for Gabourey Sidibe’s acting debut. There are appearances by Mariah Carey (unrecognizable social worker without makeup), Lenny Kravitz (the nurse), Paula Patton (school administrator) and BET’s Mo’nique (Precious’ mother). I personally feel the strength of novel and storyline speaks for itself, but perhaps Lee Daniels may have felt the need to hype up the film and garner audience support by casting these Hollywood stars (esp. Carey and Kravitz)?

{Addendum}: Okay, I take back my above statement of not having comments—I loved the film, and found it a brave story to put on the big screen. Not simply because of the subject matter (rape, abuse, pregnancy, illiteracy, obesity) but because it casts the African American community in a light that works against the community’s long time agenda and struggle to cast African Americans in roles that challenge racial, class and gender stereotypes (i.e. this is not the Cosby show). Yet in its bravery, “Precious” challenges us in the 21st to embrace both the Cosbys and the Jones (Precious’ family) as equally true representations of the African American experience in the U.S., and challenges us to explore the similarities of the Jones life all of our lives. I found this to be a film that speaks less about the Black American experience, as much as it does to the universal human experience > of despondency, hope, truth, fear, suffering, faith and courage.

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