Precious

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(2008) ★★★

BBC2: Friday 14 August, 11.35pm

Gabourey Sidibe as Claireece ‘Precious’ Jones, an obese Harlem schoolgirl who’s pregnant – not for the first time – by her abusive father. She’s never had a boyfriend. “Daddy said he’d marry me,” she tells her concerned teacher. Mom Mo’Nique doesn’t want to see anyone at the school – it might affect her welfare payments. Trapped in a vicious circle of victims, this illiterate girl hasn’t a prayer, has she? Sapphire’s source novel Push, set – like the film – in the late 80s, is so unrelentingly bleak that most people assumed it was in some way autobiographical. “That is the same thing as thinking Mark Twain was Huckleberry Finn,” she said. In fact the author (real name, Ramona Lofton) is a middle-aged, middle-class African-American from California. And by confronting head-on the experience of some young black people in America, films like Precious and, in its own funny way, the Wayans brothers’ Dance Flick, make white liberals uncomfortable by portraying characters they would deem to be stereotypes. Let’s face it, if Sacha Baron Cohen had worked any of this into his Ali G skits, he’d have been strung up. It’s a well-made, depressing film, with some fine performances. Not least by an utterly unrecognisable Mariah Carey as the social worker, Ms Weiss. Its six Oscar nominations included one for Best Picture, which is pushing it.

Certificate: 15
Duration: 110min

IMDB – Precious

TMDB – Precious

Rotten Tomatoes – Precious