Precious

Based on the novel Push by Sapphire, as its official title so tenaciously disclaims, Precious limns the life of an abused, obese, illiterate and pregnant Harlem high-schooler (Gabourey Sidibe) looking for a way out of her unequivocally miserable circumstances. Affecting poetry of piled-on pain, screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher and director Lee Daniels (Shadowboxer) do come awfully close to a kind of victimization porn, but it’s not for nothing that they’ve racked up festival accolades (including awards from both the jury and the audience at Sundance), prominent approval from Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, and lots of Oscar buzz. Sidibe’s Susan Boyle moment of misdirected public pity notwithstanding, hers is a rare and welcome presence in American independent film. Mo’Nique plays the girl’s monstrous mother, with Lenny Kravitz and Paula Patton as her angels of mercy and a shockingly plain and powerful Mariah Carey as her welfare caseworker.