1 – This is serious shit, put away the popcorn
2 – This cost 3c to make but rocks so much it couldn’t be ignored
When sitting down to watch Pariah, I thought it was going to be the former, it even starts out that way, all hardcore hip hop and achingly cool kids in a warehouse strip club for women only. But this is actually an allegory for what the film is all about; don’t judge a book by its cover.
Alike (or Ali to her friends) is a young lesbian living in New York. Still at school, she is caught in the awful time of life when you try to be what you think you’re supposed to be: with her best pal, Laura, she is butch and checking out the chicks; with her parents she is a good girl; at school she kicks ass with her razor-sharp intelligence in English class. But which of these is she? Can she be a piece of each?
Poor Ali is spending so much time trying not to disappoint that she is at risk of losing herself on the way.
Pariah isn’t really about lesbianism at all. It’s about being yourself, no matter what that means. The genius of this gem of a film is that everyone is desperately trying to find out who they are and where they fit. So much so that they ignore the needs of others. All but Ali, who is painfully aware of everyone else.
It’s about risking being a pariah in your world, but that it might just be worth it.
If all of this sounds heavy and a bit “worthy”, don’t be put off. There are moments of hilarity too. But it’s the warmth that sucked me in, especially between Ali and her BFF Laura. Adepero Oduye, who plays Ali, is one to watch. Amazing.