Friday, November 6, 2009

Ain't it Precious?

By Pilar Oberwetter

At long last-- November 6 has arrived, and Precious, a film based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire, makes its debut in mainstream theaters. Winner of the grand jury and audience awards at the Sundance Film Festival this past January, Precious has snowballed into its opening day, with glowing reviews written in almost every major news source.

I have not seen the movie yet, so no spoiler alerts here. However, when I first saw the preview several months ago, I admittedly felt tears in my eyes because even the quick, disconnected flashes of scenes from the movie completely resonated with my six years of running an adult education program in Washington, DC. Precious' character is overweight and illiterate and pregnant with her second child. This conflux of social forces is entirely consistent with my experience in adult education, where the reasons that brought my students to my adult education program-- to learn to read or to pass their high school equivalency exam-- were compounded by the presence of other complicating and often conflicting issues, including substance abuse, incarceration, parenthood, mental health problems, among others. From this first preview, I could see that Precious does not gloss over these issues, Hollywood style. Nor does it apologize for them. Instead, the character of Precious develops because of them, rather than despite them. Precious was not made in Hollywood-- it was made in a world that as a former front-line service worker, I have seen first-hand.

Again-- I have not yet watched the movie in its entirety, but the quick glimpse that the previews allowed and the collective enthusiasm of critics everywhere confirm that the movie will be worth the wait.

I am so there.

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