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Movie Review

Precious a.k.a. “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire,” “Push: Based On The Novel By Sapphire”

MPAA Rating: R for child abuse including sexual assault, and pervasive language.

Reviewed by: Spencer Schumacher

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens
Fiction Drama
1 hr. 50 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
November 6, 2009 (18 theaters)
November 13, 2009 (174 theaters)
November 20, 2009 (wide—800+ to 1200+ theaters)
DVD: March 9, 2010
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Lionsgate Films

I think I was sexually abused, but I’m not sure. What is sexual abuse, and what can I do to stop the trauma I am facing now? Answer

Child abuse—sexual

Stories of sexual abuse

Does God feel our pain? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

Life Before Birth
Have questions about life before birth and pregnancy? Visit this beautiful online presentation. Ask questions; get reliable answers.
Teen Qs™—Christian Answers for teenagers
Teens! Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.
Lesbian and Gay issues

GAY—What’s wrong with being gay? Answer
Homosexual behavior versus the Bible: Are people born gay? Does homosexuality harm anyone? Is it anyone’s business? Are homosexual and heterosexual relationships equally valid?

What about gays needs to change? Answer
It may not be what you think.

What should be the attitude of the church toward homosexuals and homosexuality? Answer

Read stories about those who have struggled with homosexuality

Featuring: Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe (as Precious), Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz, Stephanie Andujar, Chyna Layne, Amina Robinson, more »
Director: Lee Daniels
Producer: Lee Daniels Entertainment
Smokewood Entertainment Group
Oprah Winfrey
more »
Distributor: Lionsgate Films

“Life is hard. Life is short. Life is painful. Life is rich. Life is… Precious.”

“Precious” is the story of Claireece Precious Jones, a Harlem teen who has been through more hardships than most people experience in a lifetime. Precious is an illiterate, overweight an unloved teen who is ignored by her peers and abused by those who are supposed to love and protect her. Her mother (Mo’Nique) continually abuses her, both mentally and physically. Instead of encouraging her, she tells her that she is worthless and will never amount to anything, encouraging her to apply for welfare rather than waste her time finishing school. She has also been raped by her father which leads her to being pregnant for the second time.

I think I was sexually abused, but I’m not sure. What is sexual abuse, and what can I do to stop the trauma I am facing now? Answer

In a last ditch effort to save her, she is referred to a program at an alternative school called ‘Each One, Teach One.’ Upon arriving at the new school she meets up with Ms. Rain, the first person that actually sees her as being ‘precious.’ Through her, Precious starts to learn how to find value in herself.

Offensive material

Let me quickly state that the film is filled with pervasive profane language, not as much as say a typical gangster movie, but the teenagers that form the nucleus of this story talk like typical teens and pepper their language with profanity. They utter every profane word in the book, multiple times.

Though this film is fictitious, the abuses and hardships that Precious endures are far too familiar to many—particularly African-American—teens in this country. The fact that this film bears witness of such events should be the matter that is truly offensive.

The film also contains the aforementioned rape scene which though it contains no nudity is very disturbing. There is a fight scene and persistent physical abuse inflicted upon Precious by her mother and others. There is also a scene of a child being breast fed. Some might find it offensive that one of the main characters in the story ends up being a lesbian.

As the overly long title crediting the book’s author indicates the movie is based upon a novel. And though the movie, and the book the movie is based upon, is fictional, the story of the abuses that Precious’ endures are far too familiar in our society.

Filmmaker Lee Daniels does a fine job in directing this rather troubling story. The performers are for the most part first-time actors or performers from other fields such as Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz.

Though many Christian audiences may have trouble with the content of the film, those that give “Precious” a chance will find themselves immersed in a powerful and tear-jerking story that may have the capacity to pull enough heart-strings to actually do something for the hundreds (if not thousands) of Precious’ in our society that go their similar struggles every day.

Editor’s note: According to this film’s director, it has a secondary agenda. According to Director Lee Daniels, “the movie is very gay-themed.” The openly Gay director explains, “I made this movie for my ‘family’ in the ghetto. I wanted them to see, three quarters of the way through the film, that the savior [the woman that helps Precious], that the goddess, that the sex vixen, was a lesbian.” [Source: Gregg Shapiro, “‘Precious’ moments: an interview with out director Lee Daniels,” Chicago Free Press, Vol. 10, No. 10 (Chicago: November 5, 2009).]

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—PRECIOUS is the most powerful film that I have seen this year. It is a film that I will never forget as long as I live. It is a film that pulls you deep in to hell and then, right when you least expect it, pulls you out of the abyss to show you the light.

It is NOT a film for children. It is NOT a film for prudes. However, it is a film that most Christians should see. This is the real world, folks. This is the reality that many “Christian” films gloss over, or ignore entirely. This is a story of real pain and real hope. Most have criticized this film for being overly depressing. I didn’t find it to be so. I came out of the film not knowing what to say, but I felt joy for the main character in the film, and I was happy for her.

The performances in this film are amazing all around. Mo’Nique makes you believe in the darker side of humanity, and her performance is horrifying. Deserves many nominations come awards season. It is sad that most of the viewers on this site have chosen not to focus on the films positive content, but on the alleged “gay agenda” that the film promotes. This is hogwash, and couldn’t be farther from the truth. Yes, there are two lesbian characters. Get over it. Such is life. Gays and lesbians walk amongst us, and it is our job to show them the love of Christ and, as artists, reflect the truth of the world by giving them a part in the worlds that we create. …See the film. It may just change your life.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Steven Adam Renkovish, age 27 (USA)


Negative—This movie was to the extreme. I have never been traumatized so bad by a movie in all my life. There are no ups; it just continues to go south, and just when you think it may start to get better… BAM, nope—back down hill. The acting is spectacular, but is so offensive it leaves you speechless. I cannot imagine anyone saying they, “ENJOYED” this film, even if they aren’t offended by the language. And to top it all off, it glorifies the gays, and the end leaves you severely disappointed; you suffered all this hell with this character and for what? No happy ending?? I do not recommend this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—S Plant, age 31 (USA)
Negative—A question I have discussed with my friends is whether you must see evil to know that evil exists. I have seen a lot of evil, but I do not think I needed to see this movie to know that it exists. We normally do not watch R movies, but had heard that was an inspirational and “important” movie. While I understand that this movie has a lot of reality within it, the material covered is so vile I would not recommend anyone watch this movie.

I disagree with the reviewer about the language, as I felt it was much worse than any gangster movie. In those movies, it is often bad people speaking badly of other bad people. In this movie, you hear the most atrocious words from a mother directed toward her own child. I really did not feel this was a totally “pro gay” movie, though there was that underlying theme. Overall, I would avoid this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Wesley, age 46 (USA)
Negative—This movie: once you get past Monique’s g*$?¿!¡ word usage throughout, there’s still teen rape/incest(literally); strong swearing by teens; and homosexual content(supposedly not even apart of the PUSH novel that the movie is based on; added by a director that I heard was gay)! They made a fictional lesbian the heroine of the whole movie! You could understand if it were real, and they felt it necessary to add the stuff as truth, but—since it was fake—it means the movie is more evil since they could have navigated around all that filth!

It is super dramatic, but you’ll have to put your head in the sand several times to make it to the end! Once you make it there, you won’t want to watch it ever again! A rental—if anything, DO NOT BUY—unless you are a hypocrite in some way or you want a coaster or a movie that you will burn someday! Consider yourself warned!

Seriously overweight Precious and her mother(Monique) live together in this extremely low-budget “penthouse”. Precious has been raped by her father and is about to have his second baby. The father is only referenced in the movie. Anyway, Monique blames Precious for “stealing” her man away and is insanely and criminally jealous of Precious! How jealous; well, she intentionally tosses things at her (like skillets) when Precious is not even looking! Precious is cussed at and talked about in a manner that is simply monstrous and vile! Precious imagines herself as queen of a Caucasian world—possibly to escape the war-like psychological and physical abuse from her Negro mother!

Precious can’t depend on her mother to even eat and has to cook for mother—who, once, orders her to cook food for her, then complains about the meal and forces Precious to eat it though she was overweight and not hungry! Despite the serious demonic abuse and a later HIV diagnosis, Precious eventually finds great friends at her new school, a lesbian teacher (either married or has a girlfriend) who becomes the heroine of the whole movie) helps Precious when her mother abuses the new baby and she needs somewhere to stay, and a guidance counselor (Mariah Carrey) who confronts Precious” mother about her evil and Precious finally confronts her, too.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Bamminer, age 37 (USA)
Movie Critics
…“Precious” is raw and painful but poignant… takes contemporary poverty and misery and lays it bare. …
—Claudia Puig, USA Today
…a great American film that somehow finds an authentic way to move from these beginnings to an inspiring ending. … Sidibe is heartbreaking as Precious, that poor girl. Three other actresses perform so powerfully in the film that academy voters will be hard-pressed to choose among them. … [4/4]
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
…An urban nightmare with a surfeit of soul, “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire” is like a diamond—clear, bright, but oh so hard. To simply call it harrowing or unsparing doesn’t quite cut it; “Precious” is also courageous and uncompromising, a shaken cocktail of debasement and elation, despair and hope. …
—John Anderson, Variety
…“Precious” avoid the traps of well-meaning, preachy lower-depths realism. It howls and stammers, but it also sings. …
—A.O. Scott, The New York Times
…should not be missed. … Nothing quite prepares you for the rough-cut diamond that is “Precious.” A rare blend of pure entertainment and dark social commentary, this shockingly raw, surprisingly irreverent and absolutely unforgettable story…
—Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times
…a shockingly beautiful film… an inspirational fable about the power of kindness and caring…
—Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal
Comments from non-viewers
Below is an excerpt from an interview with the “Precious” film producer, Lee Daniels…
Gregg Shapiro (GS): What impact does being an openly gay filmmaker have on your choices for the films you want to direct or produce?

Lee Daniels (LD): I’m glad that you mentioned that, because I don’t get that question often. For me, I think the gay part is not an issue. But more the black gay part is a bigger issue. As a gay man, gay men, there so many of them in Hollywood and (they’re) decision makers and it’s a cult, I think. I don’t have to worry about prejudices right now, anymore. …It’s just so beautiful that people can accept me for me and being open.

GS: There’s not a lot of humor in the movie, but there is that scene where Precious goes to Ms. Rain’s house and realizes that Ms. Rain is, as Precious puts it, “a straight-up lesbian.”

LD: I love it (laughs). First of all, the movie is very gay-themed. If you really study the film. For me, lower economic socio-backgrounds really are not embracing of homosexuals. And in the book, Sapphire brilliantly executes it in a harder way. There’s so many subjects, lesbian, race, self-esteem issues, obesity, all these issues in the film, I could only like touch at it. Because I made this movie for my family in the ghetto. I wanted them to see, three quarters of the way through the film, that the savior, that the goddess, that the sex vixen, was a lesbian. [quoted from Chicago Free Press, Vol. 10, No. 10, November 5, 2009—a news publisher that “exists to serve the city´s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community”]
—Patricia, age 41 (USA)