On back-to-back nights I watched “The Blind Side” and “Precious.” At one level they could not be more different. “The Blind Side” is feel-good, perky, polished Hollywood fare, while “Precious” is dark, complex, and jolting.
At base, though, both movies are about young African-Americans abused by disintegrating families and ghetto conditions. And both chronicle how these young people find their way out, with help.
“Precious” goes a lot deeper into the interior life of its main character. She lives in a world of fantasy, where her imagination enables her to cope with an unfathomably awful environment. She’s left the building. Precious only begins to find a future when she asserts herself rather than sliding into these fantasies.
Michael in “The Blind Side” comes off as a nice, passive kid who slides by through saying nothing (and being too big to mess with, perhaps). He’s a victim of his invisibility. Nobody has cared (or noticed) that he can’t read.
The common theme is that somebody notices both Precious and Michael. In the case of Precious it’s a teacher and a social worker doing their jobs. In the case of Michael, it’s his adoptive white mother, who takes him in for no reason other than compassion. For both Michael and Precious, when somebody persists in caring they begin to wake up.
Is this true to life? I’d like to think so.