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Film / Precious

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Precious: Based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire is a 2009 film directed by Lee Daniels and starring Gabourey Sidibe as Precious. It is based on the novel Push by Sapphire.

It was nominated for three Golden Globes, winning one (Best Supporting Actress for Mo'Nique) and six Academy Awards, winning two (Best Supporting Actress for Mo'Nique and Best Writing for Geoffrey Fletcher, also marking the first time an African-American has won that award solo).


This film contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Precious's father has repeatedly raped her, and her mother has gone as far as to, among other acts, toss a TV at her after falling down the steps with her son, Abdul. It is implied that she also forces Precious to have sex with her. In the book she definitely does.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Despite efforts to make the actresses more homely, the characters in the film are much better looking than the characters as described in the book. In the book, Mary is morbidly obese to the point of not being able to fit in the bathtub; her appearance in the film is not that extreme.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: Mary is still a raging jerkass in the film, but the film doesn't show the scenes in which she sexually abuses her daughter.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Mary tearfully suffers this at the end.
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  • Ambiguously Brown: There's a scene where Precious and Miss Weiss are talking, and Precious can't tell what ethnicity she is, and asks if she's "Italian, or black, or some type of Spanish." If Miss Weiss is anything like her actress, she should be bi-racial.
  • And Starring: The posters say "and introducing Gabourey Sidibe," since that was her first major film role.
  • Angry Black Man: A Gender Flip example, Mary is always in a foul mood, while Precious can dip into this when she reaches her Rage Breaking Point and The Dog Bites Back.
  • Ascended Extra: The young actress who plays Ruby (the little girl in Precious' building) started out as an extra.
  • Bait the Dog: When Precious's returns to her apartment with her child, Mary at first seems to have Took a Level in Kindness and even hold the baby Abdul, but then she violently tosses the baby like a rag doll and goes back to abusing her that leads to a scuffle and Precious and Abdul escaping the apartment and even avoided getting hit by the TV set Mary drops on her from height.
  • Based on a True Story: The author says she based the characters and situations in the book on young people she knew in New York in the late '80s.
  • Beauty Inversion:
    • Mariah Carey as Precious' social worker is almost unrecognizable.
    • Gabourey Sidibe is made to look larger using unflattering clothes and hairstyles along with a menacing, surly glower.
    • Sherri Shepard as the receptionist at the alternative school. She has braids and is also almost unrecognizable, but not nearly as much as Mariah Carey.
  • Berserk Button: Calling Precious fat. One of her classmates learned the hard way.
  • Big Bad: Precious's abusive mother Mary is the main antagonist.
  • But Not Too Black:
    • The saintly and fair-skinned Ms. Rain rescues poor, black-as-ebony Precious from a life of misery and woe. In the novel, however, Ms. Rain was actually darker skinned with somewhat messy dredlocks.
    • In the book, Precious has a poster of Louis Farrakhan on her bedroom wall, and speaks about his sermons on self-respect. In the film, she has only white film stars on her wall. It's to emphasize her poor self-image (and how she believes that white people have it better than she does), but still. Precious also explicitly states that among her many dreams is to have a light-skinned boyfriend.
  • Child by Rape: Both of Precious's children.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Precious has at least 75 uses of the F-word, mostly from Mary.
  • Creator Cameo: Sapphire has a cameo in the very beginning, in one of Precious' fantasy sequences.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The poster, seen above. This one's less Hitchcock-y. This one tells the whole story.
  • Desperately Craves Affection: Precious is sexually abused by her father and is implied to have had the same thing happen to her by her mother, who also piles emotional and physical abuse on her including telling her nobody is ever going to love her. She receives no genuine familial affection from her family so Precious finds a way out of her traumatic daily life by escaping into daydreams. In her mind, she has created an alternate world where she is loved and appreciated.
  • Dream Sue: Precious often escapes her cruel reality by imagining herself as things she believes she can never be, such as a successful celebrity loved by everyone, a girl capable of getting a very handsome boyfriend, a beautiful white teenager, or, in the saddest example, a girl who's recognized in her yearbook, with friendly teachers and a loving family. In reality she is often outcast, has to resort to extremes to get what she wants, is morbidly obese, is despised and abused by her mother, and raped and impregnated twice by her father.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Despite contracting HIV from her father, Precious manages to dig herself out of the hell of her past life. She is reading at a near high school level by the end of the film, has new friends, severs all ties with her mother, is in possession of both her children, and has gained a new lease on life. Her next move as the film ends is to complete a GED test, which will allow her to graduate high school.
  • Evil Matriarch: Mary Jones. She allows her husband to rape their daughter, impregnating her twice. The firstborn child has Down's Syndrome and she sends that child to live with the grandmother. She receives welfare, but only spends it on herself, and puts on a wonderful mother routine when the social worker comes for visits. Even worse still, Mary physically, verbally, emotionally, and also sexually abuses Precious and eventually physically abuses the second baby that Precious gives birth to.
  • Fat Girl: Precious is the played-for-drama version.
  • Freudian Excuse: The reason for Precious's antagonistic relationship with her mother was her mom being jealous that her husband would rather have sex with his daughter than with her. In her mother's eyes, Precious was stealing him away from her.
    But, those... those things she told you I did to her? Who... who... who else was going to love me? WHO else was going to touch me? WHO else was going to make me feel good?
  • Gospel Choirs Are Just Better: In one of her fantasy daydreams, Precious imagines herself in a choir much more magnificent than the one she is watching rehearse at a local church.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire.
  • Lazy Bum: Mary refuses to look for work and mooches off the government. It’s also a reason why she wanted to get Precious to live in her house again after the latter ran away from home (due to the welfare checks getting cut off of Mary had no dependents).
  • Missing Reflection: Precious, comparing her situation to a film she saw. At a party, someone takes a Polaroid shot of five people, but only one shows up: the rest were vampires. Like them, a girl in her situation has "no place in the picture". Precious feels her true inner self deserves such a place. She sees her soul as slim and white for this reason: later, she understands that she deserves to be in the picture no matter what she looks like.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The television commercials show only the main character's day-dream sequencing, implying that the film is about an up-and-coming diva, when the actual film is not even close.
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Mary's thoughts on Precious; she explicitly blames Precious for everything Carl did because she didn't fight him off.
  • One Mario Limit: There was another 2009 film (an action movie) titled Push, so whether the...erm...unique title of the film was planned ahead of time or not, it helped avoid confusion (one doubts that there's much overlap between the two films' audiences). They did however go a bit overboard calling it 'Precious (Base On Nol By Saf) (Based On The Novel 'Push' By Sapphire)' (mimicking the way Precious writes when she is first learning how to). When the movie tie-in edition of Push was released, the cover read "Push: A Novel by Sapphire. Now a Major Motion Picture 'Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" By Sapphire'" to the confusion of readers and booksellers alike.
  • Parental Incest: Precious is raped by her father, resulting in two children and HIV. It's strongly implied that Precious's mother forces her to "take care of her" (i.e., perform oral sex on her) because she feels that her daughter drove her boyfriend off and, as she says, "Who was gonna love me?"
  • Photo Op with the Dog: Precious's mother Mary pretends like they live with Precious's child who has Down Syndrome in order to get welfare. In reality, Mary hates the child and calls her an animal.
  • Principles Zealot: Implied with Mary. If you go by the way she treated Precious, it was implied that Mary was taught that her job as a wife comes first and she should stay loyal to a man no matter how horrible of a human being he is. This may be why she allows Carl to abuse her daughter Precious.
  • A Saint Named Mary: Subverted with Precious's mother Mary, who is physically and emotionally abusive, foul-mouthed and deceitful.
  • Scary Black Man: Precious's Abusive Parents, her father repeatedly raped her, while her mother also takes it out on her daughter as well.
  • Screaming Birth: Precious uses this when she goes into labor at school. The scene cuts to her being on a stretcher and she is screaming in pain. A nurse comes to Precious' stretcher and tells her to stop screaming. She does for two seconds and then goes right back to screaming.
  • Short Title: Long, Elaborate Subtitle: Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire.
  • Sir Swearsalot: Mary.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: In a few places. The movie has REALLY surreal moments. The most bizarre might be the scene where Precious and her mother fight, accompanied by a gospel Christmas song.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Twice, in fact Precious' first pregnancy is almost a preteen pregnancy.
  • Race Lift: Ms. Weiss is Ambiguously Brown (played by Mariah Carey, who has mixed African and white ancestry). In the book, Ms. Weiss is white and Precious does not fully trust her.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Precious, after she steals and eats fried chicken on the run.note  Precious doesn't vomit in the book and her narration makes it clear this isn't bulimia; she's eating for two.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Mary had no issue tossing baby Abdul around.


Example of: