(c) 2011

Pariah

“Don’t be put off by the harsh title of “Pariah,” the stirring coming-out story of a virginal 17-year-old African-American lesbian living in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn. The teenager, Alike (pronounced ah-LEE-kay), dresses like a boy when out of her parents’ sight and endures a fair share of barbed, homophobic remarks, but she is not viciously persecuted.

An A student in high school and a gifted writer, Alike (Adepero Oduye) knows who she is and is eager to have her first lesbian experience. In one of the strongest scenes, she persuades her best friend, Laura (Pernell Walker), to buy a strap-on dildo for her, which Alike then finds too uncomfortable to wear under her clothes at a local women’s dance club. Her 15-year-old sister, Sharonda (Sahra Mellesse), is more amused than shocked when she barges into the room as Alike is trying it on.

This semi-autobiographical film, written and directed by Dee Rees, is a full-length elaboration of a 2007 short by Ms. Rees and has some of the same cast members. At its heart is an incandescent performance by Ms. Oduye, who captures the jagged mood swings of late adolescence with a wonderfully spontaneous fluency. Ms. Oduye conveys not only the intelligence and will power of a young woman who is bursting out of her chrysalis like the butterfly she describes in the poetry she writes in a journal, but also the vestigial shyness of a bright, sheltered child in the throes of self-discovery.” — Stephen Holden, The New York Times

  • Country USA
  • Rating R
  • Year 2011
  • Running Time 86 minutes
  • Director Dee Rees
  • Writer Dee Rees
  • Editor Mako Kamitsuna
  • Cinematographer Bradford Young
  • Cast Adepero Oduye, Kim Wayans, Aasha Davis