When it comes to movies and television, chances are that you probably don’t know many people who see more than I do. It is my day job, after all. If you tell me a movie title, I can probably tell you the studio that distributes it, most of the stars, and probably the director. I follow television and movie blogs, interact with the folks at the studios on a regular basis, and have access to watch most television shows before they air. (I, for instance, knew who got voted of The Biggest Loser at 1:00 PM. The show airs at 8:00 PM. I see a ton of stuff, both good and bad. So, it’s not often when an entertainment medium rocks me to my core.
Tonight, I saw a movie that was one of the most powerful films I’ve ever seen in my life.
The movie is called Precious. The film won both the audience and critic awards at the Sundance Film Festival last year. I sincerely hope that it is nominated for and wins several Academy Awards this year.
Precious is the story of a morbidly obese 16-year-old black girl who is pregnant for the second time from her father. (So you know it’s a real feel-good story.) I won’t give a full plot synopsis, because the preceding sentence tells you everything you need to know about the plot to determine if this is the kind of movie you’d like to see or not. Suffice it to say, this film resonated and burrowed in to my soul in a way that few movies have. I left the theater three hours ago, and I still can’t get the film out of my head. It astonishes me to think that there are, in fact, real stories just like this one in the world around us every day.
I started really watching movies when I was sixteen. That year, my family got our very first VCR. That same year, I also got my driver’s license, and as a result, Jamelah, Jeff, and I would drive in to Jackson every single weekend (sometimes twice in a weekend). I watched pretty much every movie that came out. I have seen hundreds, probably thousands of films in my life. I have never in my life–and I truly mean NEVER–been so completely overwhelmed by the performances of a cast of actors. They were so honest, so painful, so real.
Precious stars Gabby Sidibe in the title role, with a startling strength and vulnerability that someone so young shouldn’t be able to embody the way she did. Mariah Carey was unrecognizable as a social worker overseeing Precious’ situation. But the real standout performance for me was the one provided by Mo’Nique, who plays Precious’ abusive (sexually, emotionally, and physically) mother. Mo’Nique is not known for her canon of powerful dramatic roles. But her performance had me reduced to silent sobs in the movie theatre. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone lose themselves so completely in a role that must have been grueling to perform. (It’s a good thing I went on a Tuesday evening to a 7:45 showing of a movie that’s not your traditional feel-good holiday fare–there weren’t too many folks around to witness the fallout.)
This movie was so hard to watch that it made me feel physical pain. But it was also one of the most uniquely satisfying films I have ever had the great fortune of seeing. It left me with a sense of almost unbounded hope. I have never been so grateful to have lived my life the way it has been than I was after watching Precious. This obviously isn’t a movie for everyone, but it is one of the few that I’ve seen that I feel actually changed my life. The medium of film is so wonderful. It can bring light-hearted entertainment, tears, and sparkly vampires. It’s rare, however, for films to transcend the medium entirely. Precious, in my opinion, did. I can’t possibly recommend this movie enough.