Several years ago, I read the novel Push written by performance poet, Sapphire. I remember climbing into bed one night to read it and finishing it at about 5 AM. Several times I had to put the book down for a few minutes, just to get myself together, to breathe. Once I put the book down for the final time, I still couldn’t sleep: I was emotionally wrung out and deeply disturbed. It’s hard to recover from a book that opens with: “I was left back when I was twelve because I had a baby for my fahver…”
Though a work of fiction, the novel’s main character, Precious Jones–an obese, illiterate, HIV-positive teenager who is sexually, physically, and emotionally abused by both her parents, and is pregnant with her second child (again, by her father)–was made very real to me by Sapphire’s unrelenting prose. I cried for all the Preciouses that I know actually exist. Never before had I had such a harrowing reading experience. So, I simultaneously brace myself and eagerly anticipate seeing Precious’s story on the big screen this fall.
Precious (Gabourey Sidibe) struggles in the face of horrific realities with the odds very much stacked against her. But with the help and kindness of a teacher, a nurse (Lenny Kravitz), and a social worker (yes, that’s a very scrubbed down Mariah Carey in the trailer), Precious is able to find her voice through literature and journaling.
As was previously reported on this site, the film, originally titled, Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire, landed a distribution deal with Lionsgage after a prize-winning turn at Sundance in January. Directed by Lee Daniels (Monster’s Ball), the film has been renamed Precious to further distinguish it from Push, a sci-fi action film released earlier this year.
Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry will support the distribution of the movie in November of this year through their film companies Harpo Films and 34th Street Films, respectively.