This is an extraordinary story with an exceptional cast. The painful life burdens of the movie's main character, a teenager named Precious, will cause you to weep.
In the beginning of the film, an extremely obese teenager, Precious (Gabourey Sidibe), is caring for her Down Syndrome baby whom she has named Mongol. She is soon to deliver birth to a boy who will be named Abdul. The horror is that both children were fathered by Precious's own father who is the boyfriend of her mother, Mary (Mo'Nique), with whom she lives.
Mary, who has stood by and allowed the raping of her child, has only ill-will approaching hatred towards her daughter. One of the most poignant and dramatic scenes in the film depicts a meeting at the office of a social worker, Ms. Weiss (Maria Carey), where the mother states why she resents her daughter. I was pained by the plight of both mother and daughter and wept for both of them.
Precious is shown in a classroom with a half-dozen other girls who become her substitute family. Without the positive interaction of her social worker, Ms. Weiss, her teacher, Ms. Rain (Paula Patton), and her classmates, I have no doubt she would have been living on the streets.
The performances of Sidibe and Mo'Nique are extraordinary and spellbinding. In fact, the entire cast, including Lenny Kravitz in the role of Nurse John, does a wonderful job.
I believe everyone in the audience must have felt the way I did: how could God allow this to go on and what can our schools and society do to address the problem? The obvious answer is to provide more educational and training programs as well as money for programs to care for those in need who may never work, notwithstanding the prodding of their social worker. Clearly, however, we are not doing enough. The ending of this film, while conveying the possibility of change and a better outcome down the road, does not leave the audience with an unrealistic expectation and happy ending.
According to The National Center for Victims of Crime:
"Incest has been cited as the most common form of child abuse. Studies conclude that 43 percent of the children who are abused are abused by family members, 33 percent are abused by someone they know, and the remaining 24 percent are sexually abused by strangers (Hayes, 1990). Other research indicates that over 10 million Americans have been victims of incest.
One of the nation's leading researches on child sexual abuse, David Finkelhor, estimates that 1,000,000 Americans are victims of father-daughter incest, and 16,000 new cases occur annually (Finkelhor, 1983). However, Finkelhor's statistics may be significantly low because they are based primarily on accounts of white, middle-class women and may not adequately represent low-income and minority women (Matsakis, 1991).
Victims of incest are often extremely reluctant to reveal that they are being abused because their abuser is a person in a position of trust and authority for the victim. Often the incest victim does not understand - or they deny - that anything is wrong with the behavior they are encountering (Vanderbilt, 1992). Many young incest victims accept and believe the perpetrator's explanation that this is a learning experience that happens in every family by an older family member. Incest victims may fear they will be disbelieved, blamed or punished if they report their abuse."
I saw the picture at the Regal Union Square Stadium Theater on 13th Street and Broadway which I like very much because of its stadium seating. The audience was made up largely of young black women. This film concerns problems affecting both blacks and whites and should be seen by every racial group in our country. It took enormous courage to make and participate in this film. Those who did should be rewarded with the honors of the industry and the applause of the nation.