Independent film debut falls flat
Dee Rees’ “Pariah” started as a 27-minute short film in 2007, but it has now turned into a feature full-length release. “Pariah” tells the story of Alike (Adepero Oduye), an African-American teenage girl growing up in Brooklyn who struggles to express herself the way she wishes.
With a religious mother and apathetic father, she experiments in the ways of homosexuality with her peers. The film depicts the seedy underground world of the lifestyle with strip clubs and the like.
Unlike anyone else she knows, Alike is gifted in the ways of writing. Using her heartbreak and pain as inspiration, she has the passion to exploit her skill.
Seeing the hard times that have broken her as a way the light can get in, “Pariah” teaches us to keep looking forward through those times that could hold us back.
From executive producer Spike Lee, this film is an interesting look into a world that is unknown to most with a message that is relevant to everyone.
Featuring upcoming actors and actresses, it gives the film a sense of reality that is exemplified in the hand-held cinematography and bold honesty of its subject matter.
However, the factors that attribute to the film’s “real life” feel lack in quality.
The acting is mediocre at best, but Charles Parnell’s performance as Alike’s father is noteworthy when compared to the rest of the cast.
Although the film was awarded the Excellence in Cinematography Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, the shaky camera leaves the viewer with a migraine in certain scenes when focusing on the action of the story.
Another faulty component of the film is the extremity of Alike’s mother’s (Kim Wayans) fundamentalism in her religious beliefs. Typical of these films, her character is seen as the villain with a Bible pressed to her chest — banishing her daughter in hearing of her sexual identity.
This provides a source of much of the drama in the story leading up to Alike’s final decision to declare who she has become.
When under the roof of her parents, Alike escapes to her lifestyle with her like-minded peers to be who she wants to be.
The important notion for Alike to possess, as well as for anyone else, is to continually push forward no matter what.
“Pariah” is a little hard to watch with the degree of sexual content and language in it. What is special about it, though, is the fact that it will stick with whoever sees it, inviting further concentration on the film as a whole.
All in all, “Pariah” is a worthwhile film about self-expression and dealing with the possible consequences it may bring.