Monday, April 26, 2010

'Precious' Review

This weekend I finally saw Precious, the movie put out by Oprah and Tyler Perry. I have wanted to see this movie for a while based on the powerful trailer, positive reviews and what I have heard about the story. All I can really say is, WOW. What an amazingly powerful, sobering, eye-opening, hopeless, yet hope-filled movie.

One of the things that I really appreciated was that, while it could have been far more graphic, I felt like this movie was honest enough to give everyone a taste of what life is like for far too many. This movie is not based on a true story, however this movie is the true story of far too many people.

You experience the pain, hurt, loneliness, sadness and anger of the main character and by the end of the movie, her victory is your victory because you feel like you have gone on this journey with her.

The acting is great, the story is powerful and I think it is a must-see movie that tells a story that needs far more attention that it gets.

In the final 10 minutes of the movie there is a scene in a social worker's office with Monique and it is some of the most raw, passionate, honest and amazing acting that I have ever seen. It is that scene that has stuck with me the past couple days since watching the movie and one that will almost certainly evoke emotion from just about anyone.

I don't think that you can watch a movie like this and not wrestle with some of the truths and thought that this movie addresses.

Here is what I have been wrestling with:

I think that there were 3 real takeaways that I got from this movie in regards to "how in the world do we even approach this problem?" I will try and go into these without giving away too much of the movie for those who haven't seen it.

A) It has to start with changing the culture. There are many symptoms of this problem, and you can treat them. However, if you never get to the core of the issue you will treat symptoms forever. We need to become a culture that values life - all life. In a world where some people are viewed as less important, it is not a far step to justify poor treatment of those people. If all are created equal, all deserve to be treated equal and until we get back to valuing people just because of who they are - not because of what they have done, how they look, what they wear or where they live - we will continue to battle these issues.

B) Having the right people in the right places. In this story there are 2 key people who, despite all of her faults, see something of value in Precious. Both of them are teachers and they take the steps that they can to help her. One teacher in particular, in an Alternative School, puts in the time and energy to connect with Precious. As their relationship develops you begin to see this teacher as so much more. She isn't there just to collect a paycheck, she isn't there to check off the days till retirement, she is there because she genuinely believes that what she does has an impact on these kids. By believing in them, challenging them and building that relationship, these kids who had very little hope begin to believe that maybe there is something more. If hope dies, life dies. We need people in positions of influence in kids' lives who really care. Can each teacher take the time to develop deep relationships with every student? No. But I do believe that each teacher can at least pass on the message that no matter where you come from, what kind of crap you have dealt with or how hard your road has been, there is a potential in each kid that can overcome all of that. Strong adults speaking life into the lives of our youth is a needed necessity.

C) Have a soft place to land. This may have been the biggest part that stuck out to me. When Precious gets out of her situation she has no where to go. If there is someone who is in an abusive situation and they need to get out, they need to know that there is somewhere that they can go NOW. Getting out of that sort of situation can be hard enough, we should try and make their landing as soft as possible. We should have well-funded and staffed shelters and organizations in our communities available to anyone who really needs them. If the road ahead is just as dark as the road behind, you will never move forward.


Some practical Ideas:

* If you have a local shelter or organization that deals with abused women, go buy some new toys and donate them there so that if a mother comes in with her child, the landing for the child can be as soft as possible. If you have kids, why not donate your child's used clothes to one of these shelters? Many people arrive with nothing more than the clothes on their back and your items can make a big difference in their transition.
* If you have a "runaway shelter" or homeless teen organization, volunteer some time there. Maybe you can be the adult that shows them that the future can be different.

Finally, go rent Precious, if you haven't seen it. It is out on DVD and BluRay. It may be painful to watch at times but there is a truth in the story that we should all see.

Have you seen the movie? What did you think?


  1. We need to stop the abuse at the source. How can we compel those who would abuse an infant to seek preventive treatment? Is there such a thing? Even where the mother lacks the responsibility? Sorry, you beg plot to be given away. David Mc

  2. "If the road ahead is just as dark as the road behind, you will never move forward"

    Wow. How true is that.