Go See Precious. Now.

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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Comments

  1. I totally can’t wait to see it, sad as it seems to be.

  2. I saw the preview two weeks ago and immediately went out to buy the book. I’m getting through it, but it’s so sad, and graphic, and necessary to take in. I’m really looking forward to seeing this film, but I have to wait for the national release…I’m in Santa Cruz, CA, and it be that way, I suppose.

  3. There was an interview with Gabourey Sidibe in New York magazine a few weeks ago. Amazing woman! The responses from readers the next issue was inspiring in their positive words of encouragement and acceptance of her, as accepting of her as she is herself. Yes, inspiring. I can only imagine the power of the movie.

  4. I was afraid you were going to say that. I don’t wanna cry uncontrollably for two days, which is what I’m afraid will happen. I’m dreading it but I’ll go.

  5. I think I might go see it although I am little afraid.

    I read an interview where Monique said she based the character on her brother-who she says molested her as a child.

  6. I hope it comes to our shore here in Barbados, the book is pretty phenomenal.The Daily Beast has an interview with the author of the novel Sapphire & Lee Daniels here http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-10-18/falls-raw-sleeper-smash/

  7. SuperStarr says:

    OK, but why is it that now Tyler Perry is making all these movies about the black woman ,not able to take care of her children,I Can Do Bad By Myself,Why Did I Get Married.The black woman is so down and help her???and Oprah,someone who is a hell of an example that black woman are strong and intelligent would want to constantly show black woman in such a bad light is beyond me.Somebody is making a whole lot of money keeping movies about black woman being down and dysfunctional within the black family.This is not the 70′s..I’m tired of seeing good times that is not in most peoples mind set. People need to stop experimenting.I will not support. My daughter is going to be a doctor top student all her young life, Write a movie about how many black kids are doing that !Millions……Write about how college enrollment is at an all time high in the black community, No that would be to encouraging.

  8. This will definitely be a tearjerker but I will go see it!

  9. I’ve been waiting on this movie since I first seen clips on Youtube last year. I read the book in like four hours and had to take “tear breaks” because it was so painful. But this movie is so many girls’ reality so I’m glad it’s coming out. I really hope Monique gets nominated for the oscar because she is too darn good in those clips. I read in Essence that she drew from her brother’s sexual abuse to play the role. Powerful. Can’t wait to see the movie.

  10. I don’t know if I will see this film, especially here in Korea. From what I’ve seen of the trailer, it made me erase the two (and only two) Tyler Perry movies I’ve ever seen (online of course).
    This is real film making. No doubt about it.

    Also, what did you mean when you wrote:

    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.

    Who are “other people” and why should any pain be kept “hidden”?

    Healing begins when it’s brought to the light.

  11. Marquetta says:

    I am like you Afrobella. I avoid sad movies like the plague. But I am looking forwward to seeing Precious. I’m currently reading Push and can’t wait to see how closely the movie follows the book.

  12. SuperStarr,

    While your daughter may have the resources and the life circumstances that allow her to flourish and become the doctor that she does (as I also had those opportunities to make my life successful professionally), not everyone is as fortunate as she is.

    Movies like Precious highlight those people in society who do not have those opportunities, whose life and circumstances and environment pull them in a completely opposite direction. These movies validate their existence, tells them that their life is important and it educates wider society of their plight and encourages others through education to speak up and not allow another child to go through these types of situation.

    While you saw a negative movie about the plight of black people, I believe that stories like this transcend race. This story could easily have been true of any people group or ethnicity.

    My heart goes out to people who live under these circumstances, but their story also matters, they are also valid members of our society and they no longer need to hide especially when their lives are largely not of their own makings. Their story will and must be told.

  13. I am patiently waiting for this movie to come out . I read the book , and I cant put my finger on it , but I didnot like the book. I will still see the movie because if nothing else I believe in supporting black actresses and actors

  14. Looking forward to the movie reviews. I like how you didn’t put any spoilers in this one.

  15. SuperStarr says:

    Point taken,However I taught Special Education and taught children like this Character and I will tell you this, there is a detrimental effect on constantly seeing your people down at the lowest level on a regular basis.I love Tyler Perry,but I gotta tell you, there is more to our people then this.If I had a dollar for all the times some Caucasian or just persons not of brown skin,would ask if all my children had the same father expecting me to say no, come on…FYI about my Special Ed kids, they would do well and make much progress, that is until February (Black History Month) when the Slave tape and the remember when you were on your knees was drilled into their heads then they would be EMS to the nearest mental ward at a hospital….I love your site but the only way we stop feeding this is to turn our backs.
    P.S.
    Just when you think the Evans family will make it out of the ghetto and you hope to see them finally get out, they never do cause that’s where they belong right?? C’mon!! Sorry AfroBella the Fro means something and I’m not in the Matrix I gotta keep it real the young people are gonna have to keep up are be left behind.I do not need to see this movie or others like it.
    Peace…

  16. I loved the book and I am excited about seeing the film. Yes it’s sad, yes it shows some very HORRIBLE things. Child abuse is a reality, child molestation is a reality, and AIDS is a reality. When I finished the book it left me crying but it also left me with a since of hope. Her character had the world against her and yet she continued to try. She wanted a better life for herself and her child. She was trying to make it out of her situation. In the end she was in a better place mentally, physically, and emotionally than she was in the beginning. To me that was positive. If anyone leaves the theater thinking that this is how all black females live then that’s what they would have thought without ever seeing the film.

  17. i never read the book nor have i seen this movie but i did read Gabby’s interview, big girl or not, she’s got it going on.

    “They try to paint the picture that I was this downtrodden, ugly girl who was unpopular in school and in life, and then I got this role and now I’m awesome,” says the actress. “But the truth is that I’ve been awesome, and then I got this role.”

  18. I enjoyed the book and I am anxious to see the movie. The book addressed so many things that are prevalent in some communities. The poor education system, child rape, HIV/AIDS, poverty. I’ve been waiting to see this since I saw the preview in Feb.

  19. SuperStarr says:

    I guess some people need to see other people doing bad to feel positive about themselves. Sorry there needs to be a balance.Some people get whats being done and some well….

  20. The book was wonderful and very graphic. I almost couldn’t finish it but I did. I hope this movie does the book justice. Can’t wait to see it

  21. SuperStarr, you’re totally entitled to your view but have you seen the movie? I don’t think you have. This is a story of redemption and rising above the horrible circumstances that some people go through. The message is uplifting.

    Maybe if we support films like this, that are done well, receive critical acclaim, and feature great performances by actors of color, more stories will be told that don’t reflect that “Good Times” view black life, that you speak of.

  22. SuperStarr says:

    Actually,a student of mine had the book Push in class and was reading it during my lesson so I picked up a copy. So the assumption that people do not know of what they speak is just an example of small minds but I do understand we wouldn’t want your strong Pro Brown Peoples opinion to offend your AD Revenue now would we.. So instead you would push people to see this kind of movie, to spend their money on this???We don’t need to support Tyler Perry nor Oprah I think good. Tyler got big bucks! to change the images in his movie and I can’t Believe we have a Brown First Lady in the White House I need to see movies like this for an uplifting message??? You really sound crazy…take the Afro out of your name cause you lookin kinda unfamiliar :-/ Don’t bother to respond just another Gossip Blog frontin pushing blind people off a cliff…making money off of Brown peoples plight is not something you can wrap your mind around that’s so sad…

  23. I’m sorry you felt the need to insult me and make assumptions about my character to prove the point you seem so fervent to prove. All the best in the future. If you don’t agree with my opinion, feel free to read other blogs. I sincerely thought this was a great film. As did many other film critics.

  24. SuperStarr…WOW

  25. Hi ‘Bella,

    Thanks for all the hard work you do and for promoting a film that is — from most accounts I’ve seen so far — a high quality film. The subject, like many subjects we hesitate to consider, is hard to deal with and hard to watch. While some movies are indeed (IMO) exploiting the plight of those in dire situations, I don’t feel this movie does so. Why? Because Precious is trying to succeed over many odds. I also do not feel the movie is exploitative because her situation is not portrayed as the standard for “all Black women” but rather the situation of some people, Black or otherwise (ever seen Bastard out of Carolina?). In the end, these stories must be told so we as a society can (a) never forget (b) do something about it and (c) understand life beyond our little bubble.

    So, Afrobella, keep doing what you’re doing and pay no mind to those who can’t seem to disagree without being disagreeable.

  26. I’ve been waiting to see this movie ever since I saw the trailer – thank you for letting us know it’s about to be released. And I absolutely loved the NY Mag interview; good to know Sidibe already has a couple of new films lined up.

  27. lenore b. says:

    I read this book years ago and loved it! I can’t wait to see the movie. I think we as a people should be mature enough to realize that for every black doctor, lawyer, business executive, there’s a someone like Precious, who’s living in a virtual hell. The negative comments are mostly comiing from people who haven’t read the book. Even though Precious is poor, not what most of us consider physically attractive, and being subjected to the worst abuse you could ever imagine, she’s stil hopeful and has dreams for the future. I’m from NYC and see girls like her every day, we see an obese, black teenager with a baby and sometimes forget she’s a human being with hopes and dreams, just like every one else.It’s uplifting and shows how education and a caring adult can lift someone out of the most dire circumstances.

  28. It was such a great and powerful movie. I agree with you 100%. They will definitely be gracing the red carpet at the Oscars. I plan to see it again when it comes out. Its opening in select cities Nov. 6 so I’m taking everyone so it can go nationwide and not flop like Good Hair.

  29. I forget ur n Chicago too did you go to the screening on 87th???

  30. AbsolutshuN says:

    I’m so happy America gets a front row seat . Perhaps it will make it harder for them to turn away when they feel that “something’s not right” w/ that feeling. I will not elaborate on on this but I wish someone would had taken my Front Row Ticket 30+ yrs ago~If you think it’s hard to watch,,try living it….
    Pushing on~

  31. A lot of people are wondering where Mo’Nique found the inspiration to become her character in ‘Precious,’ just like you ‘Bella. In last year’s 2008 October issue of Essence, in which she served as special guest editor, she opened up about it in an interview.

    Essence:
    “In the October issue of ‘Essence,’ the Baltimore native reveals that she was sexually abused by her brother at the tender age of seven.

    “I was molested by my older brother,” she tells writer Audrey Edwards during one of her most candid interviews ever. “And even when I confronted him and told my parents, he said I was lying, and nothing was really done.”

    Mo’Nique’s alleged sexual abuse came full circle when playing her latest role as an abusive parent in Lee Daniels’; forthcoming film, ‘Push.’ [sidenote: This was the initial title of the film] Based on the seminal 1996 novel of the same name by Sapphire, the story is a graphic account of a young black woman growing up in a cycle of incest and abuse.

    “My brother was a monster to me,” she commented. “When Lee [Daniels] would say ‘Action,’ I became my brother.”

    Her brother, she said went on to serve 15 years in prison for sexually abusing another girl and never made amends for the abuse.”

    The extended article is posted at this site: http://www.bvnewswire.com/2008/09/12/monique-big-push-helps-tell-revelations-of-her-own-incest/

    I really do hope that this film does well, and that Mo’Nique gets her due–she deserves it.

  32. designdiva says:

    I normally don’t like to watch sad movies but I will go see this…and Black Dynamite

  33. SuperStarr says:

    Please except my apology I should not have insulted you and for that I’m sorry…I know for a fact that the media is back to trying to make these images a self for filling proficiency for Brown People and that bothers me very much.

  34. I have been waiting for this movie forever ….. I read the book a while ago and when I found out that there was going to be a movie I almost died the book is such a inspirational story as soon as it hits stores for dvd i’m get 2 copies

  35. I hope that the word ”except” and not ”accept”, was a typograpical error, being a teacher and all.The apology is nevertheless, a good indication.
    In Trinidad, we know that ”. if yuh not white, yuh considered black”. This brown stuff is not cool.
    Bella, you continue to inspire and it is good to encourage different views, but the personal attacks have no place in such uplifting and enlightening debates.
    D

  36. I love you, daddy! =)

  37. I won’t be seeing this. I’m so sick of Black people being used to alleviate white guilt. This is pure poverty porn and I don’t understand how any black person could want to see this garbage and I don’t know why Oprah would attach her name to this exploitation.

  38. It looks like Precious is getting the same kind of push back that I heard The Color Purple received when it first came out (I was only 4/5 when it was released). Push touched on many of the issues TCP did. I never saw it as a depressing/sad store. I was inspired by Precious’ desire to do better for herself and her child.

    One of the reasons I enjoyed the book was because it touched on HIV/AIDS. For the past 17 years of my life I have advocating for HIV positive individuals and promoting HIV prevention practices. 2% of black Americans are HIV positive and we must recognize that these individual exist. We must recognize their struggles and support them. We must also know our own status. There is a lot of ugly in our community (poor, middle-class, or otherwise). We can not ignore the fact that 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before 18 (1 in 6 boys). We can not ignore the fact that approx 25% of blacks live in poverty and that many of our teens are functinally illiterate and fail to graduate high school.

    These statistics may not be the reality many of us experience. But this story could inspire someone to want more out of their life or inspire someone to become an advocate for the marginalized.

  39. Morning Bella,

    As always, great job and thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. And also thanks to your dad for sharing his comments. Love it!

    I am blessed and fortunate to have had some wonderful experiences growing up, nothing like Precious had to endure. But I don’t stick my head in the sand. We have to acknowledge our issues so we can fix them. I find it interesting that some people would rather overlook it rather than see it, acknowledge it and learn from it.

    Oh well, maybe that’s just me.

    Keep up the good work and still looking for that conditioner review.

  40. caramelhoney says:

    At first I was extremely adamant about not seeing this movie. I read the book push, and it was just too graphic to me. Though the images of incest are not foreign to me(I’m a survivor) I found it very painful to read the book. When I finished I didn’t think it was inspiring or uplifting at all. So, you can imagine how i feel about the movie. Now though, after reading all these comments, I think I might see the movie. It’s raw, and so is life. As a supporter of women’s rights I think its important to see these issues. So we can acknowledge them and work on a solution.

  41. Althea Frith says:

    I honestly think people should read the book first before seeing the movie… PUSH by Sapphire. If this movie is anything similar to the book, it definitely deserves the Oscar buzz it’s receiving!!!

  42. flygyrl72 says:

    I’ll be going to the LA premiere soon & I know I will need the tissues. I get a lump in my throat every time I’ve seen the trailer.

    Read the book years ago when it came out & it just broke my heart. Precious just could never catch a break. I was a caseworker when I first came out of college & unfortunately, Bella, like you said, there are far too many of our young girls & young women who are all to similar to Precious.

    And I can’t wait to see Mo’Nique. Cause I know she put her foot in it. Anyone see “Shadowboxer” w/ Cuba Gooding? I knew from that flick that she has DEPTH, for real, not just all jokes.

    @SuperStarr – YO…for real, get back on your meds…LOL…

    Alrighty then, have a good day everyone! ;-)

  43. The trailer had me tearing up -!!!

  44. can’t believe it but it’s not showing anywhere in Columbus ohio

  45. Super star:

    I agree with you at some point…however, this story needs to be heard. What seems to be left out here is that this was actually based on a true story. This is not something made up it was somebody’s life. So this was not a movie made to bring down black people but was something that was actaully lived by someone and needs to be hard. The point is no matter what your circumstances, you can find the strentgh to carry through. And that’s all well and good that your daughter is going to be a doctor, but does not change the opsitcals that she may go through in her life. I am a very successfulk person, least to say…I encounterd mostly all the problems that prcious did in her life…and for you to say that it does not need to be heard is ridiculous. And this goes beyond your special education kids, these are everyday people that we may see just walkking down the street, at the bus stop, at the grocery store, your next door neighbor, white, black, orange…it doesn’t matter. That is the problem is that people think this happens to only one type of people, and that is not true. It you had a look at me and my great career, you wouldn’t imagine these things. So I just think you need to be a little more considerate and get the understanding that this is not about your career choice, or college you go to, but its about life…period.

  46. Oh another super star…if you are still reading this post. You mentioned that Tyler Perry has big buck…and so does oprah. But what you don’t know is that on their way to obtaining these big bucks they both encountered molestation in their lives…it seems like you just want thde good stuff of life without taking the bad…now who is really in make believe land? Bella keep up the good work…simple minded people will exist and onlyu open their minds to what they want to see not reality.

  47. Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Spending some time and actual effort to
    create a good article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Nnedi Okorafor interviews the author of Push. The movie itself sounds fab. [...]

  2. [...] Afrobella: Precious is the kind of film that needs our support. It’s a film that reveals a slice of [...]

  3. [...] think even Armond White could deny — Mo’Nique turns in one hell of a performance. I called it from the moment I saw the movie — her performance was ferocious. Take no prisoners. Oscar [...]

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