This is the beginning of something new: The Afrobella Review! I know I’ve got a whole category devoted to product reviews, but I’m expanding my repertoire to include films, music, and books that move me. And the whole thing was inspired by this movie.

Precious. You need to go see it.

Precious. You need to go see it.

I tend to avoid sad movies, which is a shame and something I’m trying to change. There’s so much to be learned from movies that bring you down, and often so little to be gained from movies that are pure escapism. I’d always justify it by saying: I watch the news, and that’s sad enough.

But Precious is the kind of film that needs our support. It’s a film that reveals a slice of American life that we too often close our eyes to. Because we don’t want to see.

All of the rumors about Precious are true. It’s unbearably sad. At times it’s hard to watch. If you’ve read Push by Sapphire — upon which this film is based — you already know that.

What you may not know about the film — Mariah Carey is GREAT in it. Lenny Kravitz is unexpected and WONDERFUL. Paula Patton is awesome. And Mo’Nique? Deserves an Academy Award. Seriously. She. Is. That. Good. Scarier than any horror movie villain. Uncomfortably intense. She is broken and damaged and frightening and so, so real.

I don’t know where Mo’Nique found the inspiration for her character. You can see the passion and fury in her eyes, this came from the depths of her soul. And the film’s star — Gabourey ‘Gabby’ Sidibe — I honestly hope she doesn’t get typecast by this role. Because she is so incredibly convincing as Precious, that I can understand why she’s giving interviews explaining — “I’m actually not her.”

Gabby Sidibe isn’t Precious, but for sure there are Precious girls out there. I see them every day, here in Chicago. They’re the girls standing in the background while the news anchor reports about yet another murder in their neighborhood. They’re the girls fidgeting anxiously while sitting on the el, or the bus. They’re the girls who are typically shouldering the burdens of poverty in the shadows, while the boys get put in the uncomfortable spotlight. They are the girls who are raising the next generation.

I saw this movie with two of my Twitter friends, LuvvieIG of Awesomely Luvvie and Luvv Divine and Obabreezie. After the film we couldn’t stop talking about it. Precious is an amazing film, a story of redemption that cries out to be seen…but in a small, selfish way you almost don’t want other people to see it. It’s such an ugly slice of reality, you want to keep it hidden. But people NEED to see this movie. I hope it’s shown in schools. I hope the people who need to see this movie, see this movie.

As raw and real and painful as it is, Precious is uplifting. And important. We can’t let movies like this come and go without making some noise at the box office. Because there are many, many more stories like Precious, that need to be told.

** edited Wednesday 3 p.m. — Today the New York Times ran a FASCINATING interview with director Lee Daniels about this film. Click here to read it. If you saw the drama that arose in the comments below, this interview can help to shed light on where the director was coming from in telling this story.

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