So, I realize I'm a bit behind on my movie watching here. I received Precious several weeks ago, and just could not bring myself to watch it, since it felt like I already knew what the movie was about. I finally watched the movie last night (if you haven't seen it, there are spoilers ahead), and I have to say that I'm not sure how I felt about the movie. I'm still struggling with what the movie was trying to say, if anything. The movie is about Precious, a young girl who is pregnant with her second child. She has been raped by her father (who does not live with her and her mother). Overall, she seems like a good kid, talking about wanting a boyfriend, and having dream sequences of being famous, or glamorous. Her school finds out she is pregnant again and decides to kick her out (for reasons not entirely clear). A teacher takes a liking to her and tells her to go to an alternative school, where she can earn her GED. At this new school, she makes friends, learns to speak for herself, and learns how to read and write. She gains confidence in herself, and, at the end of the movie, strikes out on her own, cuts ties with her mother and walks off into the sunset. At least, I think that's what happened. In the meantime, there are complex socioeconomic, class and race situations that are brought up, but not really resolved. Precious' mother is abusive (to a ridiculous extent), her father is a rapist. She has nowhere to turn, except a lesbian couple who take her in. Precious' daughter (whom she names Mongoloid) has Downs' Syndrome, and is cared for by her maternal grandmother. All her mother cares about is her welfare check, and whether she can get it with Precious in alternative school. Her mother beats her for the smallest infractions (seemingly, just because) and winds up nearly killing Precious and her newborn son. In the end, Precious ends up HIV+ (from her father), and left to care for her kids on her own (having procured welfare checks for herself).
Before I go on, I want to emphasize that I am not trying to offend anyone with my opinions of this movie. For the most part, I am just trying to understand my feeling about a movie that made me somewhat uneasy, and left me somewhat confused. I am not African American and I do not live in Harlem, so I cannot reflect on how "realistic" this movie is. Honestly, at some times, it felt like it tried to address too many things, and therefore addressed none of them well. I felt like it perpetuated the stereotype of the "Angry Black Woman", as well as the "Undereducated Black Person", and I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. In the end, the mother seemed really pissed off that Precious' father wanted to molest Precious rather than to be with the mother. I can't imagine a mother behaving like that. I can't imagine a mother sacrificing her child like that, to "keep a man". I realize that it could happen, but it ended up portraying the mother as either really ignorant and unintelligent, or as completely negligent, or, on another hand, as completely desperate and pure evil. I'm not sure that the true intention of that mother was any of those things.
Some of the things it did well was portray the state of inner city education, with kids in the classroom being disruptive, and most kids not really learning anything. And it portrayed the "welfare system", for lack of a better term, as gullible and overworked, yet willing to help Precious with some type of counseling (to a certain extent), which seemed contrary to its portrayal. Altogether, you end up rooting for Precious to "make it on her own", to get out into the world and to own it, to get a boyfriend, like she wanted, and to heal herself, and find accepting and loving friends. Some of these things happen, and others do not. And I'm just not sure how I'm supposed to feel after than roller coaster ride of a movie.