|Still from Pariah|
Sure to have gone under the radars of many thus far, Writer/Director Dee Rees' debut Feature is without a question deserving of your attention. Pariah revolves around Alike (Adepero Oduye), a 17-year-old Lesbian Girl from Brooklyn who struggles to cope with the pushes and pulls of being an A-Student on the verge of entering College, life as the Daughter and Sister whom her Family want her to be and coming to terms with her own Sexual Awakening - even if it has to be done secretively as she passes between extreme realms of Heterosexuality and Homosexuality.
It isn't easy being a Girl and Alike might know a thing or two about that. Her Father Arthur (Charles Parnell) increasingly is becoming estranged from their Family as he continues working late, apathetic when it comes to matters of the Home. Her traditional Mother Audrey (Kim Wayans) is irked by her Tomboyish ways and in an all-out effort to get Alike to change, Bina (Aasha Davis) is courted as a more appropriate Friend. Audrey also is determined to separate Alike from her Best Friend Laura (Pernell Walker), deeming her a bad influence as they go on frequenting a weekly Lesbian Night secretly at a club on the wrong side of town. With temptations abound and nobody to count on but herself, Alike always is one turn shy of devastation. Will she prevail and remain true to herself for who she really is?
33-year-old Oduye transforms into her 17-year-old Character with startling realism and authenticity. She is a true revelation in Pariah after having spent much of her Career in walk-on roles and Short Films, including 2007's 27-minute predecessor to this Feature also as Alike. Beneath her contemplative gaze is a deep undercurrent of fear and a longing for love and acceptance. Although Oduye might not necessarily have the same push this Awards Season that the Michelle Williams and Meryl Streeps of the Cinema World might have, her performance should not and cannot be overlooked.
Fans of Kim Wayans' comedic abilities from her days on FOX's In Living Colour are in for a great surprise as she shows her full range as a controlling Mother who is on the edge of an explosion. And something must be said about Rees' tactical ability in taking a Story so drenched in confusion and complex emotions, yet telling it so eloquently. Alliance Films releases Pariah on January 13, 2012.