Pariah (Film) Review


I’ve a feeling this may be the last in our Big Gay Blog Collab series for a while, as we’re pondering moving back into horror for upcoming Halloween (best season ever!). We settled on this choice (Jill’s) in the hope that we’d go out with a bang. A big arthouse-y, emotional bang that is.

So, did it live up to expectation – or did it turn out to be as limp as the lettuce I bought last weekend and should have chucked out by now? Let us see.



Pariah (2011)

Director: Dee Rees
Stars: Adepero Oduye, Kim Wayans, Aasha Davis

IMDB Synopsis: A Brooklyn teenager juggles conflicting identities and risks friendship, heartbreak, and family in a desperate search for sexual expression.

My Review:

Alike is a young African American lesbian who hangs out in strip clubs with her friend, Laura who is openly gay. She’s a virgin and kind of shy, despite Laura’s best efforts to get her in the game. She’s a studious girl with a talent for poetry and she also has a distinctly ‘boyish’ style much to the chagrin of her mother, Audrey who’s forever trying to get her into pretty blouses and skirts.

“This is my disapproving face.”

Audrey just doesn’t understand Alike and has deep suspicions about her sexuality, though she doesn’t say anything directly. Instead she sends her husband Arthur, a police officer in to see what’s what. Trouble is that Arthur is by and large an absent man, obviously with something extra going on the side and often late home. Basically, he’s one step short of having a flashing neon sign pointing at his head saying “Guess what? I’m cheating!”. As a result the parents row all the fucking time and in those moments, Alike and her annoying sister, Sharonda are thrown together as a unit.

“You like Hanson too?!”

Audrey pushes Alike to become friendly with her friend’s daughter, Bina, not least because she thinks Laura is a bad influence (being a big bad dyke an’ all). At first Alike is not at all into this arrangement, but gradually the pair begin to bond over music and share a kiss. Laura in the meantime is pushed to the side and she doesn’t really like that, which makes you think that maybe she’s into Alike herself.

Arthur, on his police rounds, visits a store opposite the strip club that Laura and Alike frequent and one of the employees makes a flippant comment about his daughter being gay. He damn near loses his shit but it does plant a seed in his mind. Up to now he’s been pretty lax about Alike’s dress and attitude as they get on well. Basically, Arthur still thinks Denial is a river in Egypt.

Later on he chats to Alike and makes the assumption that she has a boyfriend when she starts talking about someone liking her. She doesn’t correct him though it’s clear she wants to. Later, after a party, Alike stays over at Bina’s and they do it. The next morning Alike is full of the joys of Spring but Bina is as cold as December and snaps at Alike that their night of passion does not mean that she’s a lesbian.

Alike is devastated and takes herself home. That night there’s an explosive argument on the home front and the truth comes out, leaving Alike badly beaten and outcast. In the aftermath, comfort comes from an unexpected source and Alike is forced to make a serious life choice.

The future’s bright. Or is it?

Question section! Will it all work out in the end? What will Alike do with her life and her writing? Will her family ever come round? Will Laura ever profess her love for Alike?

And will Bina change her mind? Not that she deserves a second chance, the horrible cow. All these questions will be answered, or not even crop up at all, if you view this for yourself.

My Thoughts: 

I just didn’t feel this one. Perhaps because I went it expecting to feel everything, I’m not sure. All I know is that it took a little while to get going and then all the ‘action’ was in the last half an hour.

The performances were banging, I’ll give it that. Alike was likeable and all the main characters, including Audrey managed to make me feel for them. Even when the parents are letting their daughter down in a heartbreaking way, I felt sympathy for them. I want to believe that Audrey was just worried and would come round eventually, as many parents do (and some don’t, which breaks my tiny heart).

As for Arthur, he becomes (*spoiler*) a surprisingly positive element, despite his duplicitousness (also he’s very handsome). I would like to have seen more from Sharonda though, her brief scenes (including the dildo scene) are hilaire.

All in all, it’s very moving and hopeful in the end but moody and slow on the journey there.

My Rating: 3/5 – *Shrug*

I just wasn’t that into this, but what did my blog wife Jill think? Only one way to find out, eh?