Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire, this is the story of 16 year old “Precious”. Living in Harlem (1987) she is enduring a horrendous existence,as a result of both psychological and physical abuse. Pregnant with her second child, illiterate and mentally broken down, this is an extremely tough watch. While this is pitched as a “coming-of-age” story, it is far from your typical loved up, high school qualms drama.
You would think that with the subject matter listed above that perhaps it would be tactfully handled, but instead it is so deliberately exaggerated and forced onto the screen, obvious in its attempt to disgust and upset that it borders on the unrealistic. Subtlety would not have been missed in this, because while the issues are very serious and should be treated as such, the structure of the film didn’t allow the incidents to be properly explored. Instead, you have cutaway scenes that are seemingly out of place, and an abundance of poor supporting characters that only seem to detract from the importance of the key themes in a sea of stereotypes.
It is not without it’s merit though. Gabourey Sidibe is excellent as “Precious”, visibly distressed, she conveys the unsettled, introverted emotional state with exceptional conviction. While the surroundings all seem a little surreal, hers is a character I could fully buy into. Similarly, Mo’Nique provides a fantastic performance as her mother – an abusive and manipulative tyrant who at one point managed to make me yell at the TV, I have rarely been so incensed with a character in a film before.
This is heavy viewing. To some it might even be offensive given the nature of the basic characters, but there is something in this. There is a reason it was nominated for all those Oscars, and it’s because at it’s very core is a multitude of very real issues that are often overlooked. It is just a shame that it leans towards the clichéd rather than the realistic.