Open Thread: Precious

None of us have seen Precious, so I thought I’d open a thread inviting comments from anyone who has? The limited-release movie, based on the novel Push by Sapphire, features a female African-American lead and a number of other female characters (many of color, and at least one is a lesbian). The character “Precious” is an African-American teenage girl who is pregnant for the second time by her father and abused by a mother who has been encouraged by the husband-father to interpret this abusive relationship as something like adultery – he prefers Precious sexually, so the mother should be sexually jealous, and take out her frustration on Precious, not him.

From what I’m hearing, the movie succeeds in making it difficult for people to interpret it in terms of stereotypes (about African-Americans, women or men). It tackles the ignorance that makes not only Precious but her mother vulnerable to the abuse cycle, and puts the blame where it belongs: on a society which would rather avoid talking about unpleasant things than actually do something about them.

But again, that’s just what I’m hearing from people who have discussed it with me. If you’ve seen it, please feel free to chime in, and spoilers are permitted in the comments.

Note: comments may contain SPOILERS.


  1. Lou says

    I thought the film was absolutely stunning – even just at the fundamental level of treating a teenage female as the true, real protagonist worthy of a “serious” film without her having to be glamorous/ sexual/ shiny-and-squeaky-clean, a sadly very rare occurrence! This also adds depth to what – when you boil it down to a one-liner – sounds like a seen-it-before cliche of a storyline: Precious has an inner-world, she has elements to her personality and life that aren’t just “victim”, she has pride and strength despite being fucked over by almost everyone. The mother is likewise not just “abuser” – she is pitiable and sympathetic but without any shying away from the ferociousness with which she abuses.

    But of course I think instead of going by my comments you should ALL go see it yourselves when you get the opportunity! The only way to get the misogynist film industry to support rounded female protagonists is to give them money when they do :)

  2. Anemone says

    I finally saw this today, and I think what made the film work for me is that it focused on Precious and her stubbornness rather than the good guys and bad guys in her life. Her character is what drives the film.

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