REVIEW: Pariah

Directed by: Dee Rees
Written by: Dee Rees (screenplay)
Starring: Adepero Oduye, Pernell Walker, Aasha Davis and Kim Wayans

Pariah is the remarkably honest if not groundbreaking first feature from writer/director Dee Rees, who adapted it from her own short film.  It charts the partial repression and eventual emergence of a young Brooklyn teenager’s (Adepero Oduye) lesbian sexual identity.  All of this takes place in a deeply religious, patriarchal African American household where girls are meant to be “girly” and where parents, especially the father (Charles Parnell), are not questioned.

It’s not the father, though, but the mother (Kim Wayans) who challenges and puts down Alike (pronounced Ah-lee-kay) the most.  Like in the more recent and more watered-down animated film Brave, Pariah pits mother/daughter against each other and lets the father largely remain peacekeeper.  The key difference, though, is that the peace is not kept.

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