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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.

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.
  • Adaptation Title Change: Precious is based on the novel Push. The movie's poster even makes this very clear.
  • 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.
    • In the movie, Precious is even fatter than she was in the book, where she's said to be about 200 lbs. She's played by the 285-lb. Gabourey Sidibe.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Inverted. Mary is a much bigger jerkass in the book than she is in the film, as the book is much more graphic regarding the details of the emotional and physical abuse that she puts Precious through.
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  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Mary is seen indulging in this in her bed before calling for Precious and forcing her to "finish her off" off-screen.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Mary tearfully suffers this at the end.
  • 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." Not to mention that "Weiss" is usually an Ashkenazic Jewish surname and Jews of mixed race descent aren't completely unheard of. 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.
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  • Ascended Extra: The young actress who plays Ruby (the little girl in Precious' building) started out as an extra.
  • Asshole Victim: Carl dies from HIV towards the end of the movie. When Mary tells Precious this, her response is simply "Is that all?"
  • 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 City in the late 1980s.
  • Beauty Inversion:
    • Mariah Carey as Precious' social worker is almost unrecognizable. Provides the trope image.
    • 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.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Mary pretending to be nice to Mongo in front of a visiting social worker from welfare, only to be mean to her afterwards, especially in the eyes of Precious' visiting maternal grandmother Tootsie who fears and even hated her daughter Mary. Mary catches Precious trying to give the candy back to Mongo, but refuses her to give her back the candy and allows her to put it back on the floor. Mary arrogantly thinks Precious and Mongo are stupid and not perfect.
  • 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 dreadlocks.
    • 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.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Mary is implied to be one after she use to having a sexual relationship with her husband Carl, and is later shown forcing her own daughter to give her oral sex (off-screen).
  • 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.
  • Force Feeding: Mary demands that her daughter cook for her. Precious cooks a meal of pigs' feet. However, she forgot to make collard greens. Mary is furious, and she forces Precious to eat the meal, claiming Precious "f**ked it up". Precious is not hungry, but she ends up eating the meal. While eating the pigs' feet and watching an old Italian film with Mary, Precious sees herself in the movie with her mother taunting her with "mangia, puttana" (“eat, you whore”).
  • 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.
    Mary: 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.
  • Hidden Depths: Precious may have limited literacy skills, but she makes up for this by being surprisingly good at math, obviously brought about by her infatuation with her math teacher, which meant she always paid attention in his classes.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire.
  • Incest-ant Admirer: Carl desires to one day marry his own daughter Precious and continue sexually abusing her. Precious is disgusted at this.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Why Mary abuses Precious: because her husband was too busy sexually abusing Precious, Mary felt since there was no one else she could turn to, decided to sexually abuse Precious as well. To satisfy her own needs as well hoping by doing so will help draw her husband back to her.
  • Karmic Death: After decades of sleeping around and also raping Precious for most of her life, Carl dies from HIV. Unfortunately, he passed it on to her the last time he forced himself on her.
  • Kick the Dog: Mary seems to have become nicer to Precious and asks to hold her new grandchild. Only to deliberately drop him and start beating Precious again.
    • Precious reveals that she delivered her first child Mongo while lying on the floor as her mother Mary was kicking her on the head.
  • Lady Swears-a-Lot: Mary.
  • 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 since Mary had no dependents).
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Both Ms. Weiss and her girlfriend are feminine.
  • Living with the Villain: Precious living with her abusive mother and sexually abusive father. Considering she has no where else to go.
  • Love Triangle: In Mary's eyes, she thinks she has to compete with her own daughter Precious over her husband Carl, when in reality Precious is being sexually abused by Carl and doesn't want anything to do with him.
  • 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.
  • Misplaced Retribution; As the social worker points out, Mary should've been mad at Carl for sexually abusing their daughter Precious. Instead, she forces physical, mental and sexual abuse onto Precious.
  • Never My Fault: Mary claims to Ms. Weiss that she isn't at fault for being aware of her husband Carl sexually abusing Precious and not stopping him in the first place. Ms. Weiss argues that she still "allowed" him to abuse her daughter and calls her out on it.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Rape Discretion Shot: Mary masturbates in her bed before calling for Precious and forcing her to "finish her off". The screen fades to black before Precious has to do so off-screen.
  • 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.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After her mother purposely drops her infant son Abdul and abuses her again, Precious fights back, gathers her son and runs out of there.
  • Short Title: Long, Elaborate Subtitle: Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Precious stands up to her mother Mary when the latter deliberately drops her infant grandson Abdul and accuses Precious of "stealing" Carl from her.

  • Situational Sexuality: Since her husband is never home and she's too lazy to go out and find somebody else to satisfy her, Mary decides to sexually abuse Precious by forcing her to perform oral sex on her.
  • The Sociopath: Carl fits this trope to a T. He's a drug user who has no qualms about sleeping around with many partners besides Mary and Precious (he actually has a wife, but clearly has no love for her). What really makes him this, however, is the fact that he's been raping his own daughter for nearly her entire life and didn't stop until her second pregnancy by him finally drove him out of the house. He's clearly completely aware that the odds of producing children with some kind of deformity or developmental disorder is very high (as evidenced by the first child being born with Down's syndrome) but doesn't care about anything except satisfying his lust.
  • 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.
  • 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.