"Set in Harlem in 1987, it is the story of Claireece Precious Jones, a sixteen-year-old African-American girl born into a life no one would want. She's pregnant for the second time by her absent father; at home, she must wait hand and foot on her mother, a poisonously angry woman who abuses her emotionally and physically. School is a place of chaos, and Precious has reached the ninth grade with good marks and an awful secret: she can neither read nor write. Precious may sometimes be down, but she is never out. Beneath her impassive expression is a watchful, curious young woman with an inchoate but unshakeable sense that other possibilities exist for her. Threatened with expulsion, Precious is
offered the chance to transfer to an alternative school, Each One/Teach One. Precious doesnt know the meaning of alternative, but her instincts tell her this is the chance she has been waiting for. In the literacy workshop taught by the patient yet firm Ms. Rain, Precious begins a journey that will lead her from darkness, pain and powerlessness to light, love and self-determination."
This movie is certainly not a "feel-good" movie. "Viewer discretion" is certainly advised. It's raw. It's brutal. It's depressing, really. But I'm glad I saw it because it stirred something within me and I hope that it would do the same for anyone else who sees it. The young actress who plays Precious was born to play this role, in my opinion. Movies these days are full of pointless profanity and violence, but occasionally one comes along that actually gives meaning to it all. And since most of us aren't going to move to Harlem and live this young girl's life, seeing a film like this is probably as close as any of us are going to get to understanding what it must be like to be born into and live under such circumstances. And once you're aware of it, you want to do something about it.
The day after seeing the movie, I went with my friend to a Community of Christ meeting (formerly known as the RLDS church). The meeting was simple and I enjoyed it. Since there were only 5 or 6 of us and we were in a private home, there was no organ or hymn singing, but they played some spiritually uplifting music on CD. One of the songs they chose was by one of my favourite groups, Secret Garden, the Norwegian-Irish duo who composed the original version of "You Raise Me Up" (the song made famous by Josh Groban). The song they chose to play is called "Sometimes A Prayer Will Do" and the vocalist is the same African American gospel artist who sang in the original version of "You Raise Me Up." My friend and I both reflected upon the movie of the previous night as we heard the song and I think we both felt pretty moved.
The movie's tagline is:
"Life is hard. Life is short. Life is painful. Life is
rich. Life is precious."
Indeed. But sadly, I think that many get stuck in the "painful" parts, never to attain the "rich," and are robbed of the "precious."
So I've been thinking about the huge gap between my life and that of a person like Precious. How do we bridge that gap? How do we truly "bear one another's burdens?" I can sit and cry about her circumstances, and my heart can be filled with all the compassion in the world. But how does that help her?
I'd like to believe that "sometimes a prayer will do," but sometimes it just seems so horribly inadequate.