A Precious review

Precious

Getting up off my seat mid-credits and walking to the end of the row, I shuffled past a conversation between two women who were much agreed that the film was ‘powerful’. As I left the toilet – the old noggin wasn’t fussed by the film’s 109 minute running time, but my bladder didn’t get the memo – I walked past another group, deep in conversation, “…powerful,” said one, “oh yes, very powerful,” her companion replied, nodding vigorously.

Though I am loathe to say it, I have little choice but to agree with my fellow weekday matinee audience members. The film was powerful. It was also hard-hitting and, at times – namely during the scenes of physical and sexual abuse – intense and hard to watch.

But it is a fantastic film. Hugely likeable Gabourey Sidibe is solid as the title character, and I thought Paula Patton was excellent in the classic ‘teacher who won’t give up on her troubled students’ role. I’m not sure either Lenny Kravitz or Mariah Carey are quite good enough so that we might see past their celeb veneer, but a truly impressive Mo’Nique puts in a frighteningly convincing performance as Precious’ abusive mother,  and thoroughly deserves the praise (and the awards) that she’s been receiving.

Mo'Nique as Precious' mother, Mary

The film is about a young girl who is struggling with basic reading and writing at school, struggling to deal with domestic violence at the hands of both her parents, struggling with her weight and the abuse that comes with that, and struggling to be a good mother to the two children conceived after ‘relations’ with her own abusive father.

Precious has stirred heated debate; if you’re interested, click the link. I think arguments focusing on whether the film is racist in its portrayal of this black family from Harlem, or we as the audience are racist for enjoying it, or not, miss the point somewhat. It’s a movie about a black girl, in a black area, but hers are not black problems. The story it tells features real life issues, present in all communities and at all times – child abuse, domestic violence, rape, teen pregnancy – and it’s told in a compelling and emotive way. And I’ve got the briney cheeks to prove it.

Don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom, and the film’s ultimate message is one of hope, so don’t be put off. I’d even go as far as to say it’s a must see! It’s showing at the Tricycle until February 11th, so Monday night is your last chance to see it for a fiver, £8 otherwise.

On your way in/out, leave yourself some time to look around the gallery. From 4th – 6th February there’s an exhibition of photos by Dawn Bowery, with some lovely shots of people and places from around the globe. It includes Essaouira Street, which was chosen as part of last year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy.

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