Saturday, April 19, 2014

Books on Film: Precious

I only watched the film Precious once, because it was just so powerful I could never face it again. It's a gut-wrenching look at the life of an underprivileged girl, but before it made Gabourey Sidibe famous it was a book called Push.

The Book

Push was the debut novel for Sapphire, and she wasn't messing around. The novel focuses on Claireece Precious Jones, 16, who has the deck stacked against her. She's obese, she's illiterate, and it shows. The novel is written in her voice, so at the beginning it can be difficult to read. Saying the words out loud,exactly as they are spelled, helps.

Precious lives with her mom Mary, and she's pregnant for the second time. It's her father's, like the first, the result of rape. Because of her pregnancy and poor performance in school, she can no longer attend. She's being sent to an alternative school that's more flexible and hands-on. It's the best thing possible for her.

At Each One, Teach One, Precious meets her teacher Ms. Blue Rain, along with several other students. The class is slower-paced than high school, and geared towards those who can't read well. Ms. Rain tells the girls to write every day if they want to learn how to write. Precious begins doing this.

She gives birth to Abdul Jamal Louis Jones and accidentally tells a social worker that her first child is living with her grandmother. Because of this admission, Mary loses the government money she's receiving for the child. She bars Precious and Abdul from the house when they return from the hospital.

They go to Ms. Rain, who gets Precious into a halfway house. As the story goes on, you can visibly see the writing style improve. It becomes more technically accurate. More pain is coming her way, however. She does begin to get help, but the book ends somewhat abruptly and with no real resolution. However it does end with beautiful writing, and maybe that was the point.

The Movie

Precious came to the big screen in 2009 and became an instant success. It launched Gabourey Sidibe, won an Oscar for Mo'Nique and garnered acclaim for Mariah Carey in an acting role. 

Mo'Nique does a powerful turn as abusive mother Mary, and she's so good it almost hurts to watch this movie. The scene with Mariah Carey and her is so unbelievably heartbreaking, it can't even be described. Watch it to see these powerful least once.

What Got Adapted?

Much of the main character's inner dialogue is absent from the film, which is understandable since it's a highly visual medium. Many of the main details are present, however, and the film does capture the gritty, dramatic tone of the book.

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