Pariah (2011)

Alike [reading her poetry]: "Breaking is freeing. Broken is freedom. I am not broken. I am free."
By Dee Rees 
With Adepero Oduye, Aasha Davis and Kim Wayans

I was compiling a list of LGBT movies and this movie came up as a similar on IMDb, since I had never heard of it I was interested. The cover drew me in immediately and decided to watch it, as soon as I could.

Pariah tells the story of Alike (also, Lee) who is a young African-American lesbian, her only friend Laura has dropped out of school so she is quite a loner, which helps her change into new clothes as soon as she gets to school, her parents pressuring her to dress in a less tomboy fashion, but this is how she feels comfortable. Her mother decides to have the daughter of a work and church colleague hang out with her, thinking it will help her stay away from Laura, Alike's only friend who is an out and proud butch.

Pariah finds its strength in the close shots and the characters' faces, they will divulge most of the action. The themes are nothing new, they are even quite common in LGBT movies, resistance from parents, the rumors and stares of the others... But it all melds fairly well here. The fears of everyone end up culminating and the movie overall doesn't disappoint.

I liked: Alike's poetry as a way of coping. The importance of clothing in building one's identity. The almost paranoiac atmosphere and surroundings. The use of music. Alike as a character. Painful, yes, but hopeful.

I disliked: The parents and the character of Bina seemed a bit cliché to me. Sharonda (the sister) could have been better developed  Could possibly have dealt with transgender issues but refused to, though some scenes were reminiscent of the documentary The Aggressives (2005).

A raw coming of age movie in a metropole that relies a lot on the power of writing which was good. A must-see piece of African-American lesbian contemporary film, but works well as family based drama.


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