On the surface, this movie looks like a typical coming of age/coming out story but when you look more into it, you see that it is a lot than that simple story. Pariah is the story of Alike; played by newcomer Adepero Oduye; a seventeen year old African-American high school student who has accepted the fact that she is a lesbian but now struggles with coming out to her very religious mother and the father that she adores. The story is set in Brooklyn, NY and might look a little like 2009’s Precious but this is as far as the similarities between the two films go. The movie also stars Kim Wayans (In Living Color, Juwanna Mann) playing Alike’s uber religious mother.
As Alike lives her life as an in the closet lesbian, she goes through many of the growing pains we all face as teenagers from the crushes, to the first kiss and the vulnerability we experience around someone we like. This movie could have easily gone into showing the cliched stereotypes of African Americans like poverty, broken homes and abuse but this one showed a middle class family that while not perfect was still very much intact and also showed a girl that was strong, smart and confident in her own way. I think it’s very refreshing to see.
Alike’s struggle really resonated with me because I have also felt like I was hiding a part of myself from family. So when the film ended with Alike getting her freedom, I was kind of affected by that and shed one lone tear (I’m a G, I don’t cry at movies lol). It was just very touching.
Pariah is rated R and in theaters now.