Newest Reviews
Offering, The
Enola Holmes
Big Calamity, The
Man Under Table
Freedom Fields
Boy Behind the Door, The
Swords of the Space Ark
I Still See You
Most Beautiful Boy in the World, The
Luz: The Flower of Evil
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness
Night of the Sharks
Werewolves Within
King and Four Queens, The
Stray Dolls
Diana's Wedding
Toll, The
Two of Us
Nowhere Special
Rainbow Jacket, The
Newest Articles
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
  Pariah One Of The Girls
Year: 2011
Director: Dee Rees
Stars: Adepero Oduye, Kim Wayans, Aasha Davis, Pernell Walker, Charles Parnell, Sahra Mallesse, Shamika Cotton, Raymond Anthony Thomas, Afton Williamson, Zabryna Guevara, Kim Sykes, Rob Morgan, Nina Daniels, Jeremie Harris
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Alike (Adepero Oduye) is a seventeen-year-old high school student who has been hoping to pursue her interest in creative writing and take that interest to college after she graduates. But there is an inner life she has that is really only known to her best friend Laura (Pernell Walker), for they are both lesbians, it's just that Laura has ventured out of the closet, for better or worse - her mother, for one, has stopped speaking to her as a result and threw her out of the house. This experience makes Alike wary of talking plainly to her parents (Kim Wayans and Charles Parnell), though her little sister has already twigged about Alike's gender...

Pariah was one of what became an avalanche of gay coming of age movies over the next few years, not that it was unique in 2011 when it was initially released, but it did seem to be at the forefront of a genre telling non-hetero kids that their feelings and emotions were perfectly fine and not to feel like a freak for cultivating them. Of course, plenty of those kids were able to come to terms with that with the help of their friends and families without the help of a bunch of well-meaning movies, but it seemed during this era that characters every type of person could identify with had grown in importance, and efforts like this were a big reason for that.

It was not sheer tokenism, either, as filmmakers were aware recognising yourself on the screen was a good way of snaring an audience, though the matter of whether you would give films a try if you did not recognise yourself was a thornier proposition, as watching something when the only question in your mind was "Why am I not in this?" could be a double-edged sword. Especially when that question did not necessarily apply to minorities in any major society, and the danger of marginalising these minority stories was ever-present, placing them firmly in a ghetto of their own devising that were preaching to the choir, intentionally or otherwise.

Where did that leave Pariah? The tale of a black teen lesbian may have sounded like a box-ticking exercise on paper, but if you were to give it a try, no matter your race or orientation, then you may be pleasantly surprised as Oduye (who was in her thirties at the time!) proved sympathetic in creating a personality you genuinely felt for when things don't work out fairly for Alike. Indeed, there are so many obstacles in the path to her happiness that it could leave you hankering after a gay movie that did not see fit to put their protagonists through so much heartache, and that this was a cliché we might be better leaving behind, or anyway adapting into a fresher set of plot points, which Pariah did not, particularly.

That title, for a start, indicated Alike was going to be put through a tough time as she forged her own existence, so not only did she meet opposition from her parents, with her mother suddenly turning deeply religious when it transpires her daughter prefers girls to boys, or the crush she actually loses her virginity to having an awkward reaction the morning after, but we are made aware of the wider community making life difficult for lesbians who refuse to conform to the overarching norms. Little wonder Alike is so guarded and reluctant to be frank about who she is inside with everyone in her life - even Laura grows standoffish when our heroine begins to bloom from out of her shadow, despite encouraging her to do so at the earlier stages of the narrative. What you were offered was a movie that may have been done to death in the years since, and could do with more acceptance for Alike to give us (or those like her) hope, but considering the slender means it was made on was quite an accomplishment. Yet Moonlight rather stole its thunder in the grander scheme of things.

[The Criterion Collection release this on Blu-ray with these features:

2K digital transfer, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New conversation between director Dee Rees and filmmaker and professor Michelle Parkerson
New cast reunion featuring Rees and actors Adepero Oduye, Pernell Walker, Kim Wayans, Charles Parnell, and Aasha Davis, moderated by film scholar Jacqueline Stewart
New program on the making of the film, featuring Rees, cinematographer Bradford Young, production designer Inbal Weinberg, producer Nekisa Cooper, and editor Mako Kamitsuna, moderated by Stewart
New interview with film scholar Kara Keeling, author of Queer Times, Black Futures
English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
PLUS: An essay by critic Cassie da Costa.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 155 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf


Last Updated: