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NEW Oduye/mellesse - Pariah (Blu-ray)


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Amazon.com: 79 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Intense family drama March 11 2012
By Paul Allaer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
"Pariah" (90 min.) brings the story of Alike (played by Adepero Oduye), a 17 yr. old girl living with her younger sister and her mom and dad. Alike is discovering that she likes girls better than guys. Alike's mom picks up on the fact that Alike is going through a "tomboy" phase, and is urging dad to do something about it. Dad, however, has his own problems (the movie shows a short phone call that one might interpret he has another lady in his world) and besides (as he says) "Alike is always daddy's girl". Needless to say, a lot of tension builds up between mom and dad and Alike. To reveal more from the plot would spoil the pleasure of watching this movie, you'll just have to see how it all plays out.

A lot has been made of the fact that this is a movie about a "black teenage girl coming out". I guess I really don't see at all what the relevance is, if any, of the race or color in this movie. What I saw was an intense family drame, set in contemporary Brooklyn, New York. It's not even so much a "lesbian" movie. I came away impressed by the fact that this is writer-director Dee Rees' debute film, as the movie certainly doesn't feel like the work of a novice.

There are a number of acting performances worth noting, none more so of course than Adepero Oduye in the role of Alike, but also Kim Wayans as Alike's mom and Charles Parnell as Alike's dad. Last but not least, there was plenty of great music featured in the movie (unfortunately the credits went by so quickly I barely had time to register all the music that was featured, although I did notice that Reema Major has 5 or so songs credited). In all, I thought that "Pariah" was well worth it, and I would readily recommend this if you are looking for something good to watch outside the Hollywood commercial mainstream.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A Striking Debute March 6 2012
By Art Lover - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Pariah is a powerful first film by an emerging director, Dee Reese, well acted by a wonderful ensemble of actors, and beautifully and evocatively shot by Director of Photography Bradfford Young. Certainly the story is one that is not widely present within contemporary cinematic culture, but the film stands on its own as a powerful piece of work, not merely a sociological footnote. The true brilliance of this movie is the way in which the visual experience wraps itself around the film's narrative. The camera work alone is truly groundbreaking and original, creating a consistently shallow sense of visual space that directs and redirects our attention in ways that allows us to experience the world intimately through the eyes of the young protagonist.

This is a film that should have received a wider screening than it did. That it was critically hailed was well deserved. That it is now available on DVD is truly cause for celebration. Buy this film, and keep your eyes and heart wide open while watching it.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
'I'm not running...I'm choosing.' April 29 2012
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Writer/Director Dee Rees is an inordinately talented newcomer. If PARIAH is indicative of the quality of films she will create, then we are in for a new level of verismo cinema. She tackles a tough subject - same sex relationships among African American women - with such insight and care to details that her film jumps off the screen screaming as in the words of her heroine `I'm not running - I'm choosing': lesbian girls are not God's mistake (to quote the mother figure) but instead have the courage to accept their difference and embrace their sexuality and still become successful members of society.

Alike/Lee (Adepero Oduye, a fine young actress who hails from Brooklyn by way of Nigeria, a graduate of Cornell University who has studied acting with Wynn Handman, Austin Pendleton, and Susan Batson) is a 17-year old sexually conflicted girl who lives in Brooklyn with her younger very bright sister Sharonda (Sahra Mellesse) and her parents - police detective father Arthur (Charles Parnell) and conservative, overprotective, biased mother Audrey (Kim Wayans). Alike is an excellent student, a blossoming poet, and a lesbian: she maintains tow life styles complete with clothes changes so that she can be the `daughter' at home and herself outside the home. Alike's best friend Laure (Pernell Walker) is her support system as Laure is comfortable about being out as a lesbian. Alike's home life is strained as her ever arguing parents disagree on many factors, on of them being Alike's need to appear like a man. Audrey arranges for Alike to become friends with Bina (Aasha Davis) who is the daughter of one of Audrey's friends, an encouragement that eventually leads to Alike's surprise first sexual experience with a girl who is just `doing her own thing' - ie, not a lesbian. This deeply affects Alike, she delves more deeply into her poetry and graduates early because of her shining school record. At a point of no return she is confronted by her parents and the manner in which she makes her decision as to `run or choose' provides the ending of the story.

The cast is uniformly strong and though Adepero Oduye makes a show-stopping debut, the other actors are equally superb. Bradford Young is the cinematographer who helps create the atmosphere. The dialogue is delivered in street language and is often covered with shouting and with multiple characters talking simultaneously: subtitles help here. But the genius of the film is in the concept and the courage and in the amazing gift for creating meaning cinema that comes across as the work of Dee Rees. She is a talent to watch. Grady Harp, April 12
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Unexpected Brilliance May 1 2012
By SD Ponder - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Simply put, I was blown away by this "little" (note quotes) film. I just did not expect this level of refinement, character development, cinematography, direction, etc. Me, a 49-year-old, cynical, AA male that thought he's "seen it all", going back over 30 years, in terms of "indie movies". Dee Rees: If you ever need funding for your next project (you shouldn't) give me a "ring". A brilliant, very well-acted, touching, sensitive piece of work. The cinematography (Bradford Young) was amazing, haunting....I am a genuine fan of Ms. Adepero Oduye and kudos to Ms. Wayans for taking this serious role. Pernell Walker was effective, yet understated in her role; the handsome, ultra-competent Charles Parnell was a revelation and left me wondering: "Why haven't I seen this magnetic dude in other films?"
I even went out had bought the soundtrack and fell in love with Honeychild Melon ("Echelon"), Apollo Heights ("Dress You Up") and Kandi Cole, etc. Wow.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A Lesbian Movie From the Black Perspective May 3 2012
By ROFLCOPTER - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
A nicely written and acted tale of a 17-year-old girl by the name of Alike who goes through the hardships of being a lesbian teen and dealing with her ongoing homelife. As a black lesbian I'm happy to see there is a black film aimed in a serious way on a LGBT-subject without comic relief. Adepero Oduye, an actress I never heard of until this film, challenges her character well in this heartfelt role. Kim Wayans, someone who most of us grew up laughing at thanks to 'In Living Color' also plays the overprotective mother of Alike and also deals with a struggling marriage. Though this is a slow burn movie, the storytelling does a good enough job getting it's point across. I liked it and hoped many will be open in taking a look at Pariah.

Rating - 3.5/5

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