Pariah - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Pariah Reviews

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December 7, 2017
Deeply moving coming-out film about a 17 year old African-American woman, trying to reconcile what her parents want for her, what she wants, and how she can balance her life.
½ September 28, 2017
An incredibly moving debut from Dee Rees, deep storytelling seems to come to her as naturally as her gorgeous visuals.
May 21, 2016
Another movie every parent shall see
½ March 4, 2016
Beautiful movie, showing first loves, the pain comes with it, and all of that with the backdrop of a family who has a hard time coming to terms with their lesbian daughter.
January 19, 2016
Brilliant and beautiful movie. Adepero Oduye is amazing. Great job by Director and Writer Dee Rees.
October 11, 2015
A beautiful film with an important message.
½ September 13, 2015
An incredible and commanding performance by Adepero Oduye makes this little indie movie a must see.
July 28, 2015
this movie is really good especially whenni saw that cute lightskin chick I almost fell out lol but it was really good I enjoyed the movie
½ July 14, 2015
Newcomer Adepero Oduye plays Alike (Le for short), a seventeen-year old high-schooler living in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood. She's smart and creative, much to the approval of her parents; but to their dismay, unbeknownst to them (or due to their unwillingness to accept and/or approve), she's also a lesbian with a masculine persona, or simply a Pariah.This movie turned out to be pretty good. Quality black dramas are so rare and this one definitely didn't disappoint. The script was well executed and the scenes seemed to piece together like falling dominoes, rather than a jigsaw puzzle with numerous elements missing. Alike is the main character who struggles with being what she considers her true self. Her domineering mother and the opinions of society causes her to repress who she is, a gay female who enjoys dressing like a guy. The agony of not being able to express her true self shows throughout her body language and face and I thought that was pretty good acting. Alike's mother specifically represented society who represses people's right to freedom through rules and moral codes. Alike's father is clearly having an affair but the mother struggles to ignore it, wanting to maintain her made up happy life. Her choice of ignorance symbolizes society's quest to ignore the realities, of what's truly real about people.
July 6, 2015
Pariah by Dee Rees: What a movie!! Powerful and Painful! Loving and Free! These closing words by the main character (Alike Freeman, eloquently played by Adepero Oduye), say it all:

Heartbreak opens onto the sunrise.
For even breaking is opening.
And I am broken.
I'm open.
Broken to the new light without,
pushing in.
Open to the possibilities within,
pushing out.
See the love shine in through my cracks.
See the light shine out through me.
I am broken!
I am open!
I'm broken, open!
See the love light shining through me:
shining through my cracks; through the gaps.
My spirit takes journey.
My spirit takes flight.
Cannot have risen otherwise.
And I am not running;
I am choosing.
Running is not a choice, from the breaking.
Breaking is freeing.
Broken is freedom.
I am not broken.
I am free!
June 25, 2015
indie slice of life movie that is quite engaging. it falters some near the end and I didn't like how her straight friend used her. other than that it was worth watching
June 21, 2015
Sensitive coming-out story.
June 9, 2015
This film is not perfect, but it is honest and earnest.
½ April 28, 2015
A really powerful movie about a high school student who is a lesbian, and lives at home with her ultra conservative parents. Such a beautiful movie chronicling the adversity that this young woman goes through in her own family. A great movie.
April 27, 2015
Alike's smile could stretch from California to Florida. It's a grin so infectious that you would never guess that, underneath her bubbliness, is a great deal of hurt. She is a lesbian, and has known so for years, but is afraid to admit it, both to herself and her dysfunctional family. Alike is only able to act like herself around her best friend Laura (Pernell Walker), who is openly gay, extroverted, and unafraid to speak her mind. She idolizes how comfortable Laura is in her own skin, but isn't so sure that her personal dream to be who she really is will ever become reality.
It's understandable. Everyone around Alike is aware of her sexual orientation, but they aren't overt about it. Her parents, grumpy policeman Arthur (Charles Parnell) and the conservative Audrey (Kim Wayans), have put two and two together, but uttering the eventual four might cause an eruption of disbelief. Alike wants to break free from the clutches of the closet she is shackled to, and "Pariah" is a snapshot of that prison break. With her 4.0 GPA and stirring demeanor, she will, no doubt, succeed in life - yet this small window of her 18th year feels like an eternity to this charismatic young woman.
"Pariah" is a coming-of-age story of sorts, but unlike its sappy peers it has something real, something rousing. Its story could be applied to anyone's life, regardless of sexuality, because it is a film that magnifies that awkward transition in high school where the kid starts to realize that their adult wings are sprouting while their parents, in denial, want to clip them so they can have their precious baby safely in their nest for just a few more years. In Alike's (pronounced ah-lee-kay) case, that evolution is infinitely more dramatic. She is close to becoming the woman she's always wanted to be, but in order to do so she must come out to her friends and family. It could destroy the comfortable repression that hangs over her life, but if she doesn't, she'll be someone else's version of Alike while the real one is confined to a psychological jail cell.
Dee Rees, in her directorial debut, handles "Pariah" with sensitivity and a strong sense of affection that makes us care deeply about Alike's struggle with her identity. It's a semi-autobiographical work for Rees, and the result is something even more intimate than the best of memoirs. The film is directed with a flair for color and soul, accenting its walls with flavorful music and ripening the developments of its characters by giving us a chance to get to know them individually. Alike's story resonates with such power because Rees takes the time to study the people she will eventually come out to, spending scenes with them so that we can consider their ticks, their neuroses. If it were made by another filmmaker, perhaps Alike's parents would come across as the typical over-reactionary adults that befall movies with a similar premise. Not here. Rees is so delicate with her characters that even the harshest of a reaction rings with sympathy because we know, and, more importantly, understand, the reason for it.
But of course, "Pariah"'s tearjerking sensibilities wouldn't have the same potency without Adepero Oduye, who portrays Alike with virulent sweetness. Subjects of a coming-of-age film frequently flutter about in copycatted air, slightly awkward, needing an adult for guidance. Oduye, though, isn't an ordinary actress, and "Pariah" isn't an ordinary film. As Alike, authenticity comes naturally; she is not so much acting here and she is becoming her character. There isn't a need for an Oscar-begging freakout to prove just how wonderful of a performance this is: Oduye's painless likability makes the urgency of Alike's dilemma all the more heartrending.
When she experiences her first heartbreak, we cry with her. When she gets accepted into a prestigious college program, we cheer with her. "Pariah" is moving in a number of ways; few films are as ardent as this one.
½ April 22, 2015
Although it adheres to the formula that comes with its genre, "Pariah" is a compelling and necessary study of a black, gay woman having to fight against prejudice to find happiness and acceptance.
September 17, 2014
Monday, September 8, 2014

(2011) Pariah

Written and directed by Dee Rees, starring Alike(Adepero Oduye) or Lee for short, hanging out at an all girls bar with a close friend named, Laura(Pernell Walker). By the time Lee gets home by bus which was late at night, we then see her change her clothes again before being hounded by her mother, Audrey(Kim Wayans) at home. While Alike's mother prefers her to dress like a lady, Alike really prefers to dress like a tomboy. Viewers can only suspect but we won't say.

Watching this movie is like watching a very personal journal that to some, being 'indifferent' can be made into a crime itself regardless whether they're law abiding, harmless or non violent. Although viewers suspect Alike's choice of lifestyle, it's not shown as immediate but very gradual, and not on an exploited fashion often shown on other films and on adult films. Viewers don't really need to see how indifferent that person really is since to do that would be easy, but we do need to witness the challenges of being one. In my opinion, this has to be one of the most important films in today's generation since it's about acceptance and moving forward.

3 out of 4 stars
September 16, 2014
Very very good. Real, raw, and emotional. Got me teary eyed at times. Wonderful piece of queer POC cinema. And to the point I think it's an important film.
Super Reviewer
½ August 17, 2014
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?!
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