BY CYNTHIA RODRIGUEZ
This short but disturbing read will burn a hole through your heart. The poet Sapphire's debut novel has been hailed as a modern day "The Color Purple". This is not just another kid from the ghetto story. It is a heartwrenching book that covers a multitude of issues that must be paid attention to such as child abuse, teen pregnancy, AIDS, racism, obesity, (just to name a few), and a fucked up social system that allows certain individuals to fall through the cracks, and a dysfunctional, enabling society that turns a blind eye to their own people.
The story revolves around, and is semi-illiterally narrated by sixteen year old Claireece Precious Jones, a Harlem teen in the 80's. One, who has thus far survived some horrific things, in the hands of her extremely scumbag father, and her unbelievably cruel mother. Every unspeakable, disgusting, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse from the two people in her life that are supposed to be there for her to love her, protect, and defend her. Yes, the book is painfully graphic, and at times I felt sick to my stomach and had to put it down temporarily to recover from certain parts.
Being that almost the ENTIRE book was written phonetically, it takes a little getting used to in the beginning. I think it was a brilliant touch though, and did not take anything away from the novel for me. I believe it takes skills for someone to do that. It's like an opera singer attempting to sing bad on purpose for a certain role.
In spite of her colossal obstacle course, you can see that little, itty, bitty light at the end of the tunnel that is her spirit trying to fight and break free from the life she was born into, and take control of her own destiny.
I have to say, also while reading this and pondering the monstrosity of the hand this young person has been dealt and somewhat overcomes, I thought to myself a few times, "Oh my God, I woulda hung myself right about now". I know that sounds terrible, but just being honest. Goes to show ya', while the rest of us are being whiny, little bitches about the holidays or some other pathetic crap, they are PLENTY of people out there coping with some serious, horrendous shit.
This is the type of thing that makes people want to get into social work. Oh wait, I already do that. As tough and intense as it may be, I think I'll keeping doing it.
BY CYNTHIA RODRIGUEZ
DIRECTED BY LEE DANIELS
PRODUCED BY OPRAH WINFREY AND TYLER PERRY
This film was as painful to watch as the book was to read. This heartbreaking interpretation on screen was right on. Of course, they had to lighten it a bit for a general audience that would be more likely to see the story in movie form than would actually read it.
I'm not at all surprised that Oprah backed this film, especially since she starred in the classic, "The Color Purple" back in the day.
I was surprised however by the outstanding performances by quite a few in the film that I would have never expected such hard hitting presentations of the characters from the book. I guarantee you'll see these people again around Oscar time. If we don't, it would be criminal.
Newcomer Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe is truly believable as the movie's main character Precious Jones. So young and talented. I can see her doing a lot in the future as long as she doesn't get pigeon holed into stereotypical roles, which unfortunetly happens with such breakout roles such as these.
Comedian Mo'nique. Wow. Like you've never seen her before. She plays a very convincing and disturbing portrayal of the truly fucked up, repulsive mom. By the end of the movie, no, mid movie, shoot, the beginning of the movie, you just wanna reach out into the screen and beat her down.
Mariah Carey. I didn't even recognize her in the trailers. Holy shit. Not a HUGE part in the film as the social worker, but a very powerful performance. She definitely redeemed herself after "Glitter".
Paula Patton as Ms. Rain, the alternative school's teacher and Precious' savior is such a gem in this film. You cannot, NOT fall in love with her character. And did I mention, she also plays a LESBIAN? Hot. Not that, that is necessarily pertinent to the story or this review, but afterall, this IS Lesbiatopia so...
Moving right along, last but not least, Lenny Kravitz. Hot little singer with the nice butt, who woulda thunk it? Playing a small but important role as Precious' nurse, he's deep, and very sweet. Enough to make straight women swoon over him as much as they do over his music videos.
You can see "The Princess & The Frog" all over the place, but a future classic like this? You have to either go out of town or get a hold of a freakin' bootleg to experience it? That's some bullshit.
However you can see it, see it. It'll hit you hard and make you think. Long after any Disney song you get stuck in your head.