Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, is a film by Lee Daniels that draws its audience in deeper than most people may be comfortable with.

Precious is a morbidly obese, abused black teenager who is pregnant (for the second time) by her father. Living in the projects of Harlem with her abusive monster of a mother, Precious doesn’t seem to get any breaks in life. She escapes her nightmarish real-life world in fantasies that are both humorous and pathetic. She is either ignored or humiliated by everyone around her until she is (mercifully) sent to an alternative school, where she actually becomes real. Asked by her beautiful and caring teacher how it feels to have spoken in class for the first time in her life, Precious simply replies, “here. It makes me feel here.”

This is maybe the first glimpse we have that there just may be some promise for Precious. Despite many setbacks and some very disturbing scenes, we never seem to completely give up hope for her.

Mo’nique’s performance as precious’ mother is spot-on, and Mariah Carey gets real as the homely, caring social worker. But the real star of this important film is Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe, a college student who, with the exception of a few smaller plays under her belt, had no previous big acting roles or plans to pursue a film career. She nailed this role, and I hope to see more of her on the big screen.

Precious it ain’t, but I highly recommend this gut-wrenching film anyone who wants to see stellar performances in an all-too-real drama about human nature, despair, and hope.