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Illiteracy, obesity, teenage pregnancy and abuse — those are generally not thematic elements you find in an uplifting film but director Lee Daniels makes us feel the hurt in this one.

It’s not so much entertainment as a treatise about those on the fringes of society and how they are judged and treated by those around them.

This film, like the recent Wendy and Lucy, gives us the opportunity to walk in the shoes of Precious (an achingly heartfelt Academy Award winning performance from Gabourey Sidibe) and hear her tell her story.

Sometimes darkly comic (because that is the nature of her existence), Precious’ is a story about a young woman who is the victim of abuse and is pregnant with her second child. She is 16 years old. She dreams and imagines a better life even as she is being abused by her mother (Mo’Nique).

Ultimately, though, Precious is about real escape and not just the dreaming of it.
Precious is offered a place in a special school and begins to see a glimmer of hope: hope from her excellent teacher (Paula Patton), hope from a social worker (Mariah Carey, unrecognisable) and hope from a ragtag bunch of new friends that her self worth almost stops her from getting to know.

To say this film shines a light on a desperate way of life and gives dignity where is it rarely given is an understatement. This is a film full of love and compassion.
Yes it is tough going; as the rating suggests, this is territory rarely covered on screen. But this is what cinema is about: shedding light where there is none and making us the better for having viewed it.

Warning: You will be moved to tears.

Adrian Drayton


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