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Left Behind: Lee Daniels’s “Precious”

Left Behind: Lee Daniels's "Precious"

Four years ago, in one of its most notorious episodes, The Tyra Banks Show found its host on a mission to enlighten her audience on the issue of anti-obese bigotry. America’s top model did so by placing the burden upon herself, taking her fat-suit to the streets, onto buses, and into blind dates—and arriving at the conclusion that she had hit upon “the last form of open discrimination that’s O.K.” The idea of the show was for Tyra to heroically assert the dignity of a marginalized group, but her histrionic response to a few hours walking around in disguise only led us down the familiar paths of sensationalism. Director Lee Daniels’s second film, Sundance favorite Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, brings this daytime-TV construction of the ultimate oppressed subject to the big screen, and again the purpose is a universal, self-ennobling empathy. As the film asks us to dream ourselves into the skin of society’s least-loved (here, a 300-pound, illiterate black teenager named Precious, who lives on welfare with her abusive mother), we are encouraged to project our own struggles onto her victimization: as the film’s website address informs us, “We are all Precious.” Click here to read the rest of Andrew Chan’s review of Precious.

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