A Bronx lesbian teenager juggles multiple identities to avoid rejection from friends and family, but pressure from home, school, and within corrodes the line between her dual personas with explosive consequences.
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This movie has likeable characters while still acknowledging their flaws and imperfections. The story itself sticks to formula but all the details, performance, and direction work for a very believable and wonderful movie that finally does justice to its concept and avoids the stigma of "poverty porn." It has heart, humor, and realism balanced well. --PolarisDiB
Pariah has an emotional endgame, but lacks an elevated conflict until its final 15 minutes. It wobbles and wavers along, resisting stakes, akin to what Moonlight did later. There's no emotional push and pull, its drama rendered ineffective until then. The photography is drab and dry, lacking a unique and appealing visual eye. Pariah's heart is under-and-un developed. A non-evolved butterfly until it finally blossoms.
On one hand I appreciate the complexity. The way the stories are presented are realistic and nothing is straightforward. I mean the Laura gets her own storyline about getting a GED and her relationship to her mother. With many subplots, the main focus could have been lost, but I feel it remains strong. The performances were very strong all around and the small moments of comedy are nice.
Some folks lament Pariah's story arc as being pat, but I agree with Nelson George who lauds Rees' effort for being "important, not simply as a promising directorial debut but also as the most visible example of the mini-movement of young Black filmmakers telling stories that complicate assumptions about what 'Black film' can be, by embracing thorny issues of identity, alienation and sexuality."
Gripping and emotionally wrenching drama about a high schooler struggling with her identity and hiding her sexuality from her parents. First time director Dee Rees delivers perhaps the most honest and powerful examination of coming out of the closet with one's family that I have ever seen. A vibrant and stunning debut, smartly written and wonderfully acted by a stellar ensemble cast.
beautifully shot with an amazing performance by Adepero Oduye. the story seemed cliched as I was watching it, but it's ending is just the right note- it's about learning to love yourself, and in order to do so you have to leave behind what is tearing you down.