Pariah by Dee Rees is a universal coming of age story…with a twist.
We all remember growing up gay. For some of us, we were just so WEIRD that being gay was the least of our problems. But for others…being gay and coming to terms with it was THE problem. This movie hit the scene hard! I waited over a year just to see it because it never opened at any local theaters in Fort Lauderdale. My friends in Atlanta, L.A. and NYC were all a ga-ga over it. Some loved it. Some hated it. Regardless, I still had to see the little movie that started the big hulabaloo.
FINALLY Pariah made it to Redbox. I rushed down to the grocers with my hot little credit card in hand. YES. YES. YES. It was time to watch THE movie.
I was not disappointed.
Adepero Oduye is perfect as Alike (Ah-Lee-Kay). Her teenage angst, confusion, disappointment and fear were palpable and brought tears to my eyes. Kim Wayans is the mom from hell who wants the Hallmark card family but ends up with a painfully imperfect one. The relationship between Alike and her mother forms the foundation of the film. Tired of her mother’s machinations and bullying, Alike comes out to her parents in the worst possible way, incurring her mother’s wrath and eventually leaving home. Sound familiar
A stand out for me was Pernell Walker who played Laura, Alike’s best friend. Laura is a typical homeboi. She is Alike’s protector and their friendship is her tenuous tie to the legitimate world. Laura is a good friend and provides the support Alike so desperately needs in her life. Pernell’s stellar performance did not go unnoticed as she was tapped to appear in the upcoming Lee Daniels movie, The Butler, featuring Oprah Winfrey. Daniels is one of the most influential directors of our time…and he’s ‘family’. (Two Snaps!)
Dee Rees is a masterful storyteller. Her empathy for even the most heartless of her characters is apparent. Will every gay person identify with this movie? Probably not…but every gay person has at least one friend who’s had a similar experience. WARNING: This is NOT a date night movie. My girlfriend and I watched it and, let’s just say, it was not a “happy ending” evening… But it is a classic and definitely lives up to the hype. Rent this film! Even if it doesn’t directly apply to you, at least you’ll be able to join the conversation.
Next week, an homage to the boys, “Finding Me” by Roger S. Omeus Jr. The movie that spawned the popular series of the same name.