NEW Oduye/mellesse - Pariah (Blu-ray)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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.
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