"Precious": Believe the Hype

I met Sapphire—poet, spoken word artist, and novelist—briefly through a car window many years ago in San Francisco, not long after her novel Push had been published. She was in the passenger seat, I knew the driver, and they were just rolling on by when they spotted me on the sidewalk. She was kind and warm, but, as you know, I don't read novels, so I never did pick up her book. What the fuck is wrong with me?! The novel reads more like a theatrical monologue from what I can tell on Amazon. And I'm going to love this. You know how I know?

Well, I just saw Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire (how her agents and lawyers or whoever managed to secure that title is beyond me), and it really is as good as the pre-release hype suggests.

I don't feel I really need to throw more praise on it, but I do want to say that everything you've heard about Mo'Nique, the comedienne-turned-dramatic-actor, still won't prepare you for her stunning performance as the title character's abusive mother. Her first extended monologue alone will make your jaw drop and quite possibly chill you to the bone.

I also want to mention that some of my friends are avoiding the film because the trailers make it look like a depressing journey into utter darkness. While the movie pulls no punches when depicting Precious's horrific life, it's also got plenty of humor and an almost-spiritual uplift.

This is also perhaps a movie that resonates with writers for some reason. Check out fellow bloggers Noel Alumit and Cheryl Klein for their raves.

I especially like when Klein writes, "Rather than just one self-sacrificing teacher, it takes a village to get [Precious] out: teacher, guidance counselor, social worker, nurse, new supportive classmates.... In Precious and, in my opinion, in life, no single person can defeat an entire web of injustice."



  1. Prince, I really want to see this, but I have this thing about sexual violence. I can't watch it anymore, because I obsess about it.

    How graphic are the scenes with her father? For that matter, how disturbing is the abuse with the mother? Is it brief? Could I close my eyes for two minutes, or would I have to miss a huge chunk of the film in order to avoid it?

  2. Prince... you betta take yo ass down to the welfare!

  3. Annie, in terms of the abuse with the mother, there are several sudden (but brief) outbursts of physical violence. I mean that you don't see it coming so there's no way to close your eyes in time. I didn't think that the physical violence was as difficult to handle as the verbal abuse though. That first mother monologue that I mention goes on for several minutes, and it's scary and it made me cry. I just can't stand to hear someone so innocent and defenseless be berated like that in such a relentlessly cruel way.

    As for the scenes with the father, there are two very brief flashback scenes that you could close your eyes during. It's not too graphic (shot from the shoulders up), but disturbing nonetheless.

    I like what Owen Gleiberman had to say in Entertainment Weekly: "Sometimes, a movie has to take you down—and I mean down, really far—to lift you up."

  4. I read Push when I was about 16, and I still remember the intensity of it. It's hard to read due to that intensity (probably similar to how parts of the movie are hard to watch), I think, and it's definitely like reading spoken word poetry.

    Also, the movie was originally going to be called Push, but they decided to change it to the current title so it didn't get confused with the other already released movie called Push.

  5. Thanks, Prince. From what you describe, I can handle it.

    What really did me in years ago was that rape scene from "The Accused." I just couldn't shake it.

    I'll see it next week. Thanks for the heads up.

  6. Diana, I'm definitely going to buy the book.

    Annie, the abuse scenes in Precious aren't nearly as long or graphic as The Accused, so you should be fine. Let me know what you think when you see it.

  7. By the way, I should mention that movie also has some gay themes that emerge in a subplot. It's sort of subversively revolutionary--I think you'll understand what I'm talking about after you've seen it.

  8. i'd hoped to see this during the denver film festival...it sold out in a matter of hours.

    boo hoo for me.

    i can't wait to see it (and i'm crushed you didn't ask me to guest blog! ahahahaha!) (no, really, i am)