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Pulsing with authenticity and led by a stirring lead performance from Adepero Oduye, Pariah is a powerful coming out/coming-of-age film that signals the arrival of a fresh new talent in writer/director Dee Rees.
All Critics (110)
| Top Critics (37)
| Fresh (104)
| Rotten (6)
| DVD (1)
The gay coming-of-age story's been done, but "Pariah" has something fresh to say, largely about the knotty complexities of love, and how they might keep someone in the closet: How badly do you need to be free, to hurt the people you love?
You don't have to be black or lesbian or even know someone who's gay to appreciate "Pariah"; you just have to have gone through or be going through the process of growing up.
"Pariah" is a small film about a big subject: the struggle to be who you are, not who others would like you to be.
If the destination is trite, the journey isn't - it comes with an ample supply of raw honesty.
Rees tells Alike's story in vignettes that are sometimes slapstick, sometimes heartbreaking, always tender.
Especially rewarding about Oduye's performance is how she's able to portray that frustration while retaining hope and optimism.
It's that nuanced treatment of an often-sensationalized subject that makes Pariah such an impressive debut.
Pariah is a fine debut---it's all been done, but rarely with performances this raw and real.
"Pariah" is a beautiful, sensitive debut, described by the cinematographer, Bradford Young as "a world and a film colored with glitter and pain."
Each character is so real, like someone you may know, which makes Pariah a real comfort.
Such a shame the rest of the picture hews so closely to the stereotypical indie playbook.
Pariah tells an involving story that's both deftly relatable and urgently progressive.
This was really good, it will hurt your heart. But "Breaking is freeing." If I could change one thing about this movie, it would be to omit the dad's phone calls -- it's the difference between subtlety and "soap opera". And holy crap Aasha Davis was 37 years old when they filmed this?!
A complex portrait of a struggling lesbian teenager from a conservative household, "Pariah" tries to be enlightening, even tragic in its depiction, and though it's obvious it's trying this approach, it's piteous enough to yield emotional depth. The lead character is as personable as any high school kid trying to understand their own body, while also feeling constrained by their parental units. The lead character is not just a lesbian, with all the trappings of stereotypical behavior usually shown, even in indie faire. Lead character Alike (Oduye) is very intelligent, accomplished, and understands the perplexing complications of her sexuality versus expectations from her family and peers. As a character study it's pretty riveting, though the plot isn't all that new. While there's a central conflict between Alike and her family, it's more a struggle between her fighting parents and less to do with turmoil over her sexual preference. Much of what affects Alike's life, and the consequences of her actions, are only partially alluded to, but never explained in-depth. While this explores many facets about the world unseen in modern depictions of gay culture, it could have gone many steps further.
The struggle and pain are palpable. An extraordinary performance by Oduye giving voice to a segment of the LGBT community I have never gotten to know. My life was enriched for having seen this film.
Gritty portrayal of coming out as a teenager - about finding yourself, whatever that takes, and about the number of ways that the vulnerability that comes along with sexual self-discovery will be exploited by others. There was some over-acting and some bad poetry, and the budget is too obviously small, but more than similar films, Pariah puts the threats to its main character in the forefront by showing all kinds of different relationships and what power over this teen could mean for the manipulator. Not a perfect film, but a raw and striking one with a standout performance by Adepero Oduye. Take a chance on it, it's well-worth seeing.
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