Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire (2009)

R | 109 mins | Drama | 6 November 2009

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HISTORY

The film was initially screened at the Sundance Film Festival under the title Push: Based on the novel by Sapphire . Four title cards are presented in the opening credits: The first two display phonetically spelled versions of the production company names, as if printed by a child. The actual company names appear directly below, in parentheses. The third card, showing the film's title in the same childish hand, reads, "PRECIOUS (BASE ON NOL BY SAF)" with the words "Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire" in parentheses directly below. Following the same pattern, the fourth title card reads, "EVRYFIN IS A GIF OF TH UNVRSS," under which the words "Everything is a gift of the universe." appear in parentheses. Beneath the quotation, the attribution is given as "--KEN KEYES JR." Under the title credit, the film begins, by showing a bright red-orange scarf hanging from a lamp post briefly before fluttering down. In the next scene, a smiling, African American woman dressed in a gown of the same bright shade of red-orange walks toward an elegantly dressed and made-up “Precious,” and drapes the colorful scarf on her shoulder, before backing away, still smiling. The woman is described in the credits as “Fairy godmother.” Near the film’s conclusion, when Precious witnesses a mother harshly scolding her young daughter in the welfare office waiting room, she gives the girl the red-orange scarf.
       Voiceover, spoken by Gabourey Sadibe as Precious, is heard throughout the film. Precious’ fantasies are depicted and she is frequently accompanied in these sequences by a handsome, light-skinned African American young man ... More Less

The film was initially screened at the Sundance Film Festival under the title Push: Based on the novel by Sapphire . Four title cards are presented in the opening credits: The first two display phonetically spelled versions of the production company names, as if printed by a child. The actual company names appear directly below, in parentheses. The third card, showing the film's title in the same childish hand, reads, "PRECIOUS (BASE ON NOL BY SAF)" with the words "Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire" in parentheses directly below. Following the same pattern, the fourth title card reads, "EVRYFIN IS A GIF OF TH UNVRSS," under which the words "Everything is a gift of the universe." appear in parentheses. Beneath the quotation, the attribution is given as "--KEN KEYES JR." Under the title credit, the film begins, by showing a bright red-orange scarf hanging from a lamp post briefly before fluttering down. In the next scene, a smiling, African American woman dressed in a gown of the same bright shade of red-orange walks toward an elegantly dressed and made-up “Precious,” and drapes the colorful scarf on her shoulder, before backing away, still smiling. The woman is described in the credits as “Fairy godmother.” Near the film’s conclusion, when Precious witnesses a mother harshly scolding her young daughter in the welfare office waiting room, she gives the girl the red-orange scarf.
       Voiceover, spoken by Gabourey Sadibe as Precious, is heard throughout the film. Precious’ fantasies are depicted and she is frequently accompanied in these sequences by a handsome, light-skinned African American young man whose character name is listed in the credits as “Tom Cruise.” In the film, “Mary” and Precious watch the 1960 Italian movie, La ciociara ( Two Women , directed by Vittorio De Sica and starring Sophia Loren), about the plight of a mother and daughter during World War II in Italy. In Precious’ subsequent brief fantasy, she and Mary replace the stars in the black and white film, speaking Italian that is translated onscreen with English subtitles. The closing credits begin with the following onscreen written dedication: “For precious girls everywhere.” The closing credits acknowledge the use of several television programs, brief clips of which are seen or heard in the film. The music credit for Verdi’s “No. 7 Libera me,” is misspelled as “Librera me.” In the onscreen closing credits the producers thank numerous individuals and also include the following acknowledgement: “Thank you ProLiteracy Worldwide, whose network of programs in all 50 states help people over 16 learn to read, write, do math, and speak English as a second language.”
       Precious marked the feature film debut of Sadibe. According to a 28 Oct 2009 HR article on the film, Helen Mirren, who had starred in director Lee Daniels’ 2005 release, Shadowboxer was to play the part of social worker, “Ms. Weiss,” but was forced to withdraw due to scheduling conflicts. Mariah Carey was later cast in the role. Mo’nique, who stars as “Mary” also appeared in Shadowboxer as a character named “Precious.”
       The novel on which the film was based, Push: a novel by Sapphire is, to date, the only novel written by poet and performance artist, Ramona Lofton (1950-- ), who took the name Sapphire for her writing and performing. The film Precious , under the title Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire , won the 2009 Sundance Film Festival grand jury prize, the audience award and a Special Jury Prize for Acting.
       According to a 3 Feb 2009 HR news item, the festival success helped the film acquire a distributor, Lionsgate, and the support of entertainment mogul Oprah Winfrey and producer-writer-director Tyler Perry, who are credited in the film’s general release as executive producers and presenters. Although the HR item and a 3 Feb 2009 DV item mentioned that Wynfrey and Perry’s support would come through their respective companies, Harpo Films and 34th Street Films, those company names do not appear in the credits. According to a 23 Feb 2009 Var article, after confusion over another film titled Push , a science-fiction thriller starring Dakota Fanning, that was released in early Feb, Lionsgate changed the title to Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire . A 5 Feb 2009 HR article revealed that Lionsgate filed suit against the Weinstein Co. for “threatened litigation” over distribution rights to Precious . The article noted that hours after the Lionsgate suit, the Weinstein Co. filed against Lionsgate and sales agent Cinetic Media for breach of contract, “saying there was a contract in place for The Weinstein Co. to buy the movie.” A 9 Feb 2009 Var article quoted Cinetic Media representatives as calling the Weinstein Co. litigation “meritless.” A 24 Apr 2009 HR article stated that the inclusion of Precious in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival had prompted the Weinstein Co. to consider seeking an in injunction to block the screening. A decision on the suit between Lionsgate and The Weinstein Co. was not made until shortly before the film’s major release in early Nov 2009. A 29 Sep 2009 DV news item reported that a federal judge dismissed one of four suits brought by the Weinstein Co., declaring that the company did not have a contract for Precious . An LAT article on the same date added that the decision would likely affect the other three pending suits. The outcome of those suits has not been determined.
       A 5 Feb 2009 NYT article noted that Precious faced serious marketing challenges because of its difficult subject matter. A 5 Nov 2009 LAT article on the eve of the film’s release revealed that advertisements for the film purposely hid “some of the narrative’s more disturbing elements while also trying to accentuate…its fleeting moments of uplift and fantasy.” After the film opened nationwide in late Nov 2009, a 21 Nov 2009 NYT article discussed the critical and viewer response to the film’s depiction of African Americans. The article stated that the chief film critic of the NewYork Press and chairman of the NY Film Critics Circle wrote that “Not since The Birth of a Nation (1915, see above) has a mainstream movie demeaned the idea of black American life as much as Precious . … Full of brazenly racist clichés… it is a sociological horror show.” The novel’s author, Sapphire, remarked that with the Obama family in the White House at the time of the film’s release, Precious represented only one segment of the modern day American black experience.
       Precious was selected by AFI as one of the ten Movies of the Year for 2009. The film won Academy Awards for Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Mo'Nique) and Adapted Screenplay, and nominations for Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Sadibe), Film Editing, Directing and Best Picture. Precious received Independent Spirit awards for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Female Lead (Sadibe), Best First Screenplay and Best Supporting Female (Mo'Nique). In addition, Mo'Nique received a Golden Globe for Best Performance by a Supporting Actress and a SAG Award for Outstanding Female Actor in A Supporting Role. The SGA nominated Sidibe for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role. Daniels received a DGA nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
20 Jan 2009.
---
Daily Variety
26 Jan 2009
p. 1, 20.
Daily Variety
3 Feb 2009
p 1, 15.
Daily Variety
14 Apr 2009.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Nov 2007.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Nov 2007.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Feb 2009.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Feb 2009.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Feb 2009
p. 1, 18.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Feb 2009
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 2009.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 2009
p. 3, 22.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Oct 2009
pp. 8-9.
Los Angeles Times
6 Feb 2009.
---
Los Angeles Times
10 Sep 2009
Calendar, p. 1, 6.
Los Angeles Times
29 Sep 2009.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Nov 2009
Calendar, p. 1, 5.
New York Times
5 Feb 2009
Arts, p. 1, 4.
New York Times
21 Nov 2009.
---
Variety
26 Jan 2009
p. 41.
Variety
9 Feb 2009
p. 4, 34.
Variety
23 Feb 2009
p. 3, 30.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
Addl 1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Co-exec prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
"B" cam op
"B" cam op
"B" cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
"B" cam 1st asst cam
2d asst cam
"B" cam 2d asst cam
"B" cam 2d asst cam
"B" cam 2d asst cam
Remote head op
Gaffer
Rigging gaffer
Best boy elec
Best boy elec
Best boy elec
Shop elec
Stage elec
Company elec
Company elec
Company elec
Company elec
Company elec
Company elec
Gen op
Key grip
Key grip
Best boy grip
Best boy grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
"A" dolly grip
"B" dolly grip
Company grip
Company grip
Company grip
Company grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dept coord
Addl art dept coord
Graffiti artist
Graffiti artist
"Graffiti" artist-writer
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
On-set dresser
Constr coord
Key constr grip
Prop master
1st prop asst
Leadman
Leadman
Leadman
Charge scenic
Charge scenic
Cam scenic
Cam scenic
Key set PA
Key set PA
Key set PA
Set PA
Set PA
Set PA
Set PA
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Asst cost des
Ward supv
Set cost
Cost PA
Cost PA
Cost PA
Spec ward for Mo'Nique and Ms. Sidibe provided by
Cost intern
MUSIC
Mus supv
Addl musician, Piano, Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Celeste
Addl musician, Cello
Addl musician, Violin
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd mixer
Sd mixer
Boom op
Boom op
Boom op utility
Sd utility
Sd editorial services by
Supv sd ed
Sd re-rec mixer
Sd re-rec mixer
Sd re-rec mixer
Addl sd re-rec mixer
Dial/ADR ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Mus ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Foley eng
Foley artist
ADR mixer
ADR rec
Dolby Sound consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff prod
Visual eff supv
Visual eff by
Visual eff supv, LOOK Effects, Inc.
Compositing supv, LOOK Effects Inc.
Visual eff prod, LOOK Effects Inc.
Digital compositor, LOOK Effects Inc.
Digital compositor, LOOK Effects Inc.
Digital compositor, LOOK Effects Inc.
Digital compositor, LOOK Effects Inc.
Digital compositor, LOOK Effects Inc.
Digital compositor, LOOK Effects Inc.
Digital compositor, LOOK Effects Inc.
Digital compositor, LOOK Effects Inc.
Digital compositor, LOOK Effects Inc.
Digital compositor, LOOK Effects Inc.
Digital ed, LOOK Effects Inc.
Digital ed, LOOK Effects Inc.
Spec eff supv
Spec eff supv
Anim & main title des by
Anim & main title des
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Hair dept head
Hair dept head
Asst hair stylist
Asst hair stylist
Asst hair stylist
Asst hair stylist
Make up dept head
Key make up artist
Key make up artist
Asst make up artist
Asst make up artist
Make up, family album photos
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Casting asst
LA casting assoc
Philadelphia casting assoc
Extras casting
Extras casting
Extras casting asst
Extras PA
Extras PA
Unit prod mgr
Addl unit prod mgr
Addl line prod
Addl line prod
Prod counsel
Prod counsel
Precision driver
Unit pub
Docuboy
Docuboy
Prod office coord
Asst prod office coord
Prod secy
Asst, Mr. Daniels
Asst, Mr. Hernandez
Office PA
Office PA
Office PA
Office PA
Office PA
Office PA
Script clearance research
Clearance and product placement
Clearance consultant
Prod accounting
Prod accounting
Prod accounting
Prod accounting
Payroll services provided by
Scr supv
Scr supv
Teacher consultant
Visual consultant
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Loc asst
Loc asst
Loc asst
Parking coord
Parking coord
Set medic
Asst chef
Catering/Craft service
Craft service
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Co-captain/Elec truck
Grip/Elec truck
Elec truck
Hair/makeup honey wagon
Hair/Makeup combo
Props
Set dressing
15 pass
15 pass
15 pass
Set dress truck
Prop truck
Grip tractor
Hair/makeup/wardrobe
Cam truck
Honeywagon
3 room trailer
1st team PA
1st team PA
Paperwork PA
Walkie PA
Walkie PA
Unit PA
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Post prod intern
Post prod intern
Post prod intern
Post prod intern
Post prod intern
Post prod intern
Post prod accounting
Post prod accounting
Post prod accounting
Dist advisory services
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
Mary stunt double
Mrs. Lichenstein stunt double
Precious stunt double
Ruby stunt double
COLOR PERSONNEL
Digital intermediate by
DI colorist, Technicolor New York
DI prod, Technicolor New York
VFX, Technicolor New York
DI ed, Technicolor New York
DI eng, Technicolor New York
DI tech asst, Technicolor New York
Imaging and film rec, Technicolor New York
Imaging and film rec, Technicolor New York
Imaging and film rec, Technicolor New York
Exec prod DI, Technicolor New York
Dailes adv, Technicolor New York
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Push: A Novel by Sapphire (New York, 1996).
AUTHOR
MUSIC
“No. 7, Libera Me,” by Giuseppe Verdi, performed by Leonard Bernstein, courtesy of Sony Masterworks a unit of Sony Music Entertainment by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing.
SONGS
“He is the Joy,” written by Marc Pomeroy and Brian A. Tappert, performed by Donna Allen, courtesy of Soulfuric Recordings, Inc.
“Do It,” written, performed arranged and produced by Lenny Kravitz, courtesy of Virgin Records
“227 End Credits (No Place Like Home from the television series 227,” written by Ray Colcord, performed by Marla Gibbs, courtesy of Sony BMG Music Entertainment
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SONGS
“He is the Joy,” written by Marc Pomeroy and Brian A. Tappert, performed by Donna Allen, courtesy of Soulfuric Recordings, Inc.
“Do It,” written, performed arranged and produced by Lenny Kravitz, courtesy of Virgin Records
“227 End Credits (No Place Like Home from the television series 227,” written by Ray Colcord, performed by Marla Gibbs, courtesy of Sony BMG Music Entertainment
“The Teacher of Love,” written by Raymond Barretto and Louis Cruz, performed by Ray Barretto, courtesy of Emusica Records, LLC under license from Universal Music Enterprises
“Columbia Pictures Television Logo Music from the television series 227,” written by Timothy Thompson, courtesy of Sony BMG Music Entertainment
“Soul Holidays,” written by James Samuel Harris III, James Quenton Wright, Ann Nesby, Jamecia V. Bennett and Terry Lewis, performed by Sounds of Blackness, courtesy of A&M Records under license from Universal Enterprises
“Was That All It Was,” written by Jerry Butler, Linda Conlon and John Ursy, performed by Jean Carn, courtesy of Philadelphia International Records and Sony Music Entertainment by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
“We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” traditional, performed by The Platters under license from Cleopatra Records by arrangement with pigFACTORY USA LLC
“Did You Ever See a Dream Walking,” written by Harry Revel and Mack Gordon, performed by Sunny Gale, courtesy of Warwick Records by arrangement with The Orchard under license from ABCKO Records
“Love is the Message,” written by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, performed by MFSB (Featuring the Three Degrees), courtesy of Philadelphia International Records and Sony Music Entertainment by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
“Come Into My House,” written by Dana Owens and Mark James, performed by Queen Latifah, courtesy of Tommy Boy Records by arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
“Humpin’ Around,” written by Antonio “L.A.” Reid, Daryl Simmons, Kenneth M. Edmonds, Thomas Reyes and Bobby Brown, performed by Bobby Brown, courtesy of Geffen Records under license from Universal Enterprises
“I Can See in Color,” written by Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq and LaNeah Menzies, performed by Mary J. Blige, produced by Raphael Saadiq courtesy of Geffen Records
“It Took a Long Time,” written by Raymond Bloodworth, L. Russell Brown and Bob Crewe, performed by Labelle, courtesy of Epic Records and The Columbia/Epic Label Group, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
“Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” traditional, performed by Mahalia Jackson, courtesy of Columbia Records and The Columbia/Epic Label Group, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
“System,” written by Nona Hendryx, performed by Labelle, courtesy of The Verve Music Group under license from Universal Enterprises
“Something’s Comin’ My Way,” written Dan Manjovi, performed by Grace Hightower, courtesy of Dan Manjovi Music LLC
“My Good Lovin’,” performed by Da Brat & Lil’Mo, contains samples of “Back Like That,” performed by Ghostface Killah featuring Ne-Yo D, Coles, V. Brown, Shawn C. Carter, Dennis David Coles, Douglas Gibbs, Shaffer Smith, Ralph Johnson and Willie Hutch, courtesy of The Island Def Jam Music Group, contains a sample of “Baby, Come Home,” as performed by Willie Hutch, courtesy of Motown Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises, Lil’Mo appears courtesy of HoneyChild Entertainment Inc., Da Brat appears courtesy of Throwin’ Tantrums Entertainment/Rare Breed Inc.
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DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire
Release Date:
6 November 2009
Premiere Information:
Sundance Film Festival screening: 16 January 2009
Cannes International Film Festival screening: 15 May 2009
AFI FEST: 1 November 2009
Production Date:
24 October--24 November 2007
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Digital in selected theatres
Color
Technicolor, with b&w seq
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
109
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1987 in Harlem, obese, African American teenager, Claireece “Precious” Jones, trudges to class while reflecting that the three things she wants out of life are a light-skin boyfriend, to be on the cover of a magazine and, primarily, to appear in a BET video, despite the fact that her mother, Mary, does not believe she can dance. Although Precious likes her math teacher, Mr. Wicher, and is good in the subject, she does not participate in class, hoping daily that something will happen to change her life. One afternoon, upon being summoned to see the principal, Monica Lichenstein, Precious refuses to divulge whether or not she is pregnant. When Ms. Lichenstein expresses concern over Precious already having a young child and suggests a parent-teacher conference, Precious advises against it. Regretfully, Ms. Lichenstein suspends Precious, who angrily insists that she is guiltless and her grades are good. At home that evening, when Precious admits that she was unable to get Mary her cigarettes, her mother bashes her in the head with a skillet. Dazed, Precious recalls her father, Carl, raping her and bringing about her pregnancy. Struggling to distance herself from the painful memory, Precious imagines herself glamorously dressed at a film premiere greeting fans with her light skinned, handsome boyfriend at her side. Mary brings Precious out of her dazed imaginings by throwing a pan of water over her. Later that evening as Precious fixes dinner, the front buzzer goes off several times and, upon answering it, Precious is distressed to hear Ms. Lichenstein. Despite Mary’s ominous warning to get rid of the woman, Precious listens while ... +


In 1987 in Harlem, obese, African American teenager, Claireece “Precious” Jones, trudges to class while reflecting that the three things she wants out of life are a light-skin boyfriend, to be on the cover of a magazine and, primarily, to appear in a BET video, despite the fact that her mother, Mary, does not believe she can dance. Although Precious likes her math teacher, Mr. Wicher, and is good in the subject, she does not participate in class, hoping daily that something will happen to change her life. One afternoon, upon being summoned to see the principal, Monica Lichenstein, Precious refuses to divulge whether or not she is pregnant. When Ms. Lichenstein expresses concern over Precious already having a young child and suggests a parent-teacher conference, Precious advises against it. Regretfully, Ms. Lichenstein suspends Precious, who angrily insists that she is guiltless and her grades are good. At home that evening, when Precious admits that she was unable to get Mary her cigarettes, her mother bashes her in the head with a skillet. Dazed, Precious recalls her father, Carl, raping her and bringing about her pregnancy. Struggling to distance herself from the painful memory, Precious imagines herself glamorously dressed at a film premiere greeting fans with her light skinned, handsome boyfriend at her side. Mary brings Precious out of her dazed imaginings by throwing a pan of water over her. Later that evening as Precious fixes dinner, the front buzzer goes off several times and, upon answering it, Precious is distressed to hear Ms. Lichenstein. Despite Mary’s ominous warning to get rid of the woman, Precious listens while the principal informs her that, based on a recommendation from Mr. Wicher, she has referred Precious to an alternative education program called “Each One-Teach One.” Pleased by Mr. Wicher’s support, Precious ignores Mary’s mounting hostile criticism and retreats to her bedroom. Incensed, Mary loudly denigrates her daughter, berating her for “stealing Carl,” and for being “stupid.” When a weary Precious finally half-heartedly throws her shoe down the stairs at her mother, Mary rushes upstairs to attack her. The next morning as Mary smokes, dances and watches television, Precious looks through a photo album, imagining the photos of her mother and Mr. Wicher speaking to her with praise, love and adoration. At the “Each One-Teach One” school, Precious is met by the dubious receptionist, Cornrows, who then acknowledges that Ms. Lichenstein has rushed through her transfer papers. Uneasy about having to take placement tests, Precious walks back home trying to be optimistic about the new program, when she is insulted and knocked down by some teenage boys. Stunned, Precious momentarily envisions herself filming a dance video in front of an enthusiastic audience as her handsome boyfriend waits in the wings. The next morning, aware of Mary’s volatile mood, Precious prepares tensely for school and, glancing in the mirror, sees herself as a slender, white, blond girl. Despite Precious’ attempt to slip out of the apartment unnoticed, Mary summons her back to the bedroom where she sexually abuses her. Later, Precious steals a bucket of fried chicken and gorges on it before returning to her new school where she is promptly sick. Afterward, Precious is met by attractive young teacher, Ms. Blu Rain, who teaches a preparatory course for taking the GED exam. The class consists of half a dozen other young women, Rita, Rhonda, Jermaine, the sassy Joann and proud Puerto Rican, Consuelo. Ms. Rain asks the students to each begin a journal, writing who they are, where they are from and something at which they excel. Although initially uncomfortable about reading her entry aloud, Precious eventually begins participating in class. Over the next few classes, Precious is gently but firmly encouraged to participate in her studies by Ms. Rain and drops her defensive manner. One afternoon, Mary angrily demands to know why Precious has not been in school, which she has learned through the welfare office. When Precious explains her transfer to the new school, Mary insists she cannot have her welfare payments reduced because there is no official verification of Precious’ schooling, then proceeds to denigrate Precious’ abilities. Masking her hurt and frustration, Precious imagines herself in the foreign movie showing on television, with a firm, but more loving Mary in the role as the exotic mother. A few days later, Precious meets with welfare representative, Ms. Weiss, and bluntly demands to know how she can help with the harsh realities of Precious’ home life. Ms. Weiss is taken aback when she asks about Precious’ first child, who the girl calls “Mongo,” as the toddler suffers from Downs Syndrome. On another day soon after, Mary’s mother, who takes care of Mongo in her own home, brings the child to Mary’s apartment to help prepare for the regular visit from a social worker. During the meeting, Mary, made-up and in a wig, assures the woman that she regularly searches for employment and takes Mongo to doctor visits, although she cannot produce the documents for either claim. On the next visit with Ms. Weiss, Precious inadvertently admits that Carl fathered both her children, but refuses to elaborate, only describing giving birth to Mongo on the kitchen floor while Mary kicked her in the head. Stunned, Ms. Weiss insists that Precious begin regular visits or the agency will be forced to reduce or stop Mary’s welfare checks. School continues to provide Precious with much needed relief and she grows in confidence, writing regularly in her journal and cheerfully attending Ms. Rain’s field trips, one of which is to a museum. In class one afternoon before Christmas, just as Precious begins reciting a story she wrote, she goes into labor and is rushed to the hospital. After Precious gives birth to a healthy boy, whom she names Abdul Jamal Jones, her classmates visit and tease her about African American nurse, John McFadden, who spends time with Precious, encouraging her to eat healthier and continue with her studies. Ms. Rain also visits and keeps up a steady stream of encouragement via the journal, which she and Precious exchange back and forth. Unpressured and relaxed in the hospital, Precious concludes that she must raise both of her children on her own. When challenged by Ms. Rain, who fears Precious will, like Mary, resort to dependence on welfare and reject her schooling, Precious stubbornly insists that she will manage. Upon taking Abdul home, Precious is met by a suspicious, angry Mary who, after saying the baby looks like Carl, orders Precious to fix her dinner. As Mary resumes her demeaning abuse of Precious, her daughter turns on her and demands to know why she stood by and allowed Carl’s assaults. Furious, Mary strikes Precious, but, for the first time, Precious fights back, resulting in a tumultuous brawl. After throwing Mary into the wall, Precious takes Abdul and her backpack and flees. As Precious and the baby rest on the bottom stairwell, Mary drags the television to the railing and pushes it over, but Precious is able to leap aside in time to prevent being injured. Precious then wanders the streets with Abdul, imagining herself safe in a warm church where she joins a gospel choir performing joyfully. With nowhere else to go, Precious breaks into the school where she and Abdul are discovered by Ms. Rain and Cornrows. Distressed, Ms. Rain immediately sets about arranging a place for Precious, but due to the lateness of the day and the Christmas break, offers to temporarily take her and the baby to her apartment instead. There, Ms. Rain introduces Precious to her partner Katherine and Precious is stunned to realize that Ms. Rain is a “straight up lesbian.” After dinner, Ms. Rain and Katherine give Precious a Christmas present, then play Scrabble and Precious is amazed to experience a caring and respectful home life. In the next few weeks, Precious and Abdul move into a half-way house, where Precious devotes herself to the baby while continuing to attend school. When Precious wins the Mayor’s Literacy Award, the school throws her a party which Nurse John attends and who Precious introduces to Cornrows. Later, while helping Ms. Rain clean up, Precious privately admires her teacher’s strength and dedication. Knowing that she cannot remain at the half-way house permanently, Precious nevertheless wonders if she will ever be able to afford her own apartment. Months later, Mary visits Precious to tearfully inform her that Carl has died from AIDS. Stunned, Precious ignores Mary’s query when she will return home and imagines herself the center of a high-fashion photo shoot. After advising Mary to see a doctor, Precious visits a clinic where tests confirm that she is HIV positive. Unable to focus at school, Precious angrily confides in Ms. Rain, declaring that her condition is the result of the only “love” she has experienced. Ms. Rain assures Precious that her experiences are not based on love, and asserts that Precious is truly loved by Abdul and by her. Soon after, at her regular meeting with Ms. Weiss, Precious learns that Mary has asked to meet with her and the children, in hopes of bringing about reconciliation. Hesitantly, Precious agrees, but also decides that, despite the challenges, she will continue with school and try for a better life. A few days later, Precious and Abdul meet Mary at Ms. Weiss’s office. Urged by Ms. Weiss to explain Precious’ home life, Mary haltingly describes having Precious, whom she initially loved whole heartedly, even when it became a challenge to juggle care for her, and keeping Carl sexually and emotionally satisfied. Although Mary admits that Carl began sexually abusing Precious when she was still a baby, she acknowledges that fear of losing him led her to allow the behavior to continue. Over time, as Carl lost interest in her, Mary describes growing to hate Precious for taking him from her and prompting his eventual abandonment. When Ms. Weiss tentatively asks about Mary’s own abuse of Precious, Mary tearfully asks where else was she to get physical affection and love. Mary then goes out into the hall where her mother has Mongo, and bringing the child to Precious, asks if they can be reunited. When Ms. Weiss asks Mary about allowing the original abuse of Precious as a baby, Precious interrupts, saying the situation is beyond the welfare agent’s abilities. Taking Mongo and Abdul, Precious stands and, turning to Mary, states that she never knew her mother until that moment and declares that she will never see her again. Out in the street, Precious, Mongo and Abdul move off, blending in with the crowd in the bright sunshine. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.