Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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NY1 Movie Review: "Pariah"

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"Pariah" is a new coming-of-age story set about a teenage girl in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. NY1's Neil Rosen filed the following review.

"Pariah," which marks the feature film debut of writer-director Dee Rees, is an interesting coming-of-age story that's set in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Alike is a shy, sensitive 17-year-old who has embraced her identity as a lesbian. She's open about it with her friends and classmates, but she sort of leads a double life.

Her mother is a devout churchgoer who has suspicions about her daughter's sexuality, while her dad, who's a little more understanding, is still too macho to accept the idea of his daughter being anything but straight.

So Alike hides who she really is from her folks. She dresses one way at school, but before she comes home she changes into different attire so that her parents won't catch on. But she's not always successful.

The mother thinks Alike is just going through a tomboy phase and insists that she become friends with a seemingly straight-laced girl who lives in the neighborhood, believing that her influence will rub off on her. But things might not be as they appear.

Writer-director Rees has made an honest movie with believable characters. I never felt that these were manufactured stereotypes. They all come across as real people and are complemented with true-to-life dialogue.

As Alike, Adepero Oduye turns in a strong performance, subtly getting across her character's struggles with her parents, her shyness, her looking for love and her heartbreaks.

The supporting cast, which includes Kim Wayans as her mom, Charles Parnell as her father and Aasha Davis as her new friend, all are top notch.

Although these themes have been tackled before in other films, it's the excellent performances, writing and direction that make "Pariah" fresh and emotionally involving.

Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: 3 Apples

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