In "Precious," newcomer Gabourey Sidibe "carries the alternately exhausting and exhilarating narrative on her formidable shoulders."
In "Precious," newcomer Gabourey Sidibe "carries the alternately exhausting and exhilarating narrative on her formidable shoulders."

Oprah- and Tyler Perry-presented "Precious" Opening Brings Out Irvine Academics Tonight

Precious, the film adaptation of poet Sapphire's best-selling novel Push, has generated buzz since its Sundance premiere, added Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry as its high-powered "presented by" team since then, and has even produced talk of a best-supporting actress Oscar nomination for comedienne Mo'Nique.

Mo'Nique, fer chrissakes!?!

Precious is now taking over literally half of Edwards University in Irvine, where it opens on three screens today in its exclusive Orange County opening. And one of tonight's showings will be followed by a panel discussion involving various UC Irvine academics.

Professors from the psychology, African-American and film and media studies departments are scheduled to lead an audience discussion immediately following the 7:05 p.m. screening. Advance tickets are recommended due to limited seating at that particular showing.

Director Lee Daniels' film opened last week in Los Angeles, prompting the following from LA Weekly film editor (and frequent OC Weekly contributor) Scott Foundas:

In her broad outlines, the character of Claireece Precious Jones risks sounding like the epitome of ghetto cliché: an obese, illiterate 16-year-old; mother to a 4-year-old Down syndrome daughter and now pregnant again; physically and psychologically abused by her mother; repeatedly raped by her father, who is also the father of her own two children. Precious--as she prefers to be called--is the central figure in the poet Sapphire's best-selling 1996 novel Push , an homage of sorts to The Color Purple (which it directly references and also mirrors in its diaristic style) set in the pregentrification Harlem of the mid-1980s. It's a testament to Sapphire's affecting prose (written in Precious' own words and dialect) that her protagonist emerges as something more than a mere statistic or representative--that we understand how Precious' story is, for all its commonalities with other abused black women, uniquely her own.

Foundas calls Daniels' movie adaptation "a somewhat blunter object but an effective one."

Hothouse melodrama one moment, kitchen-sink (and frying-pan-to-the-head) realism the next, with eruptions of incongruous slapstick throughout, this may be Daniels' stab at finding a cinematic analog for the novel's inventive, naïf-art language--a film style, like Precious' writing, seemingly being made up as it goes along. Yet even when the movie is at its most schizoid, Precious still packs a wallop.

Read Scott's full review here.


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