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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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?Precious? shows the struggles of Harlem neighborhood

By Evan Frank

During this past year’s Sundance Film Festival, no film shocked the mountain west audience as much as “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire.” Then titled “Push: A Novel by Sapphire,” the movie went on to win all three of its nominations at the prestigious film festival. Since January, Oscar talk has heated up after people witnessed the outstanding performances in the film, one of which is an unusual suspect: comedian Mo’Nique, who won the Special Jury Prize for the best supporting actress at Sundance. After the success in Utah, the film caught the attention of two of the most powerful people in show business: Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry. The two famous producers helped the film get picked up by Lions Gate Entertainment.

Set in Harlem circa 1987, “Precious” focuses on a young but oddly charismatic 16-year-old, Claireece “Precious” Jones. Yet this film is not for the faint at heart, since it touches on several tear-jerking social issues. Precious, who is pregnant with her second child, is struggling in school with a nonexistent father figure and abusive mother, played by Mo’Nique. Every time Mo’Nique’s character comes on screen is a tense and fearful moment for many. There are few characters in films who are everyday human beings, yet so frightening. Abuse surrounds Precious the same way love surrounds many. She accepts it and doesn’t think twice.

Director Lee Daniels portrays the bad living conditions and lack of parental support in such a way that the viewers feel as if they are right there in the struggling Harlem neighborhood with the characters. The poor living conditions in the film are not just relative to a community such as Harlem. Walking in downtown Salt Lake City can be an abrupt awakening for anyone. Seeing the long lines of homeless people trying to eat lunch each day represents the truth of what Daniels is trying to portray. Pan handling at the train stations in Salt Lake City, which many students who ride TRAX may be accustomed to, is a prime example of how every community has people who struggle every day.

The film takes a different approach in terms of unique dream sequences that show Precious in her own world. Although unconventional in film technique, they highlight an important theme, which is Precious’ only way to get through the day. Daniels draws out plenty of suspenseful and emotional scenes, extracting powerful performances from his actors. “Precious” is a film that highlights what horrible events are possible in society, while championing the resiliency of the human spirit. Tissues for the inevitable tears are recommended.

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