Director: Dee Rees
Stars: Adepero Oduye, Aasha Davis, Kim Wayans, Charles Parnell, Pernell Walker, Sahra Mellesse
On the surface, Pariah is a coming-of-age tale, told from the perspective of a young woman. At its core, it's a film about the struggle for acceptance. Based on writer and director Dee Rees' 2007 short film of the same name, Pariah follows 17-year-old Alike (Adepero Oduye), who has accepted the fact that she is a lesbian. Her parents, Audrey (Kim Wayans) and Arthur (Charles Parnell) are less understanding. Her mother is angry at the sudden changes in her daughter's life, and while her father is accepting, he's convinced it's all just a phase.
Hoping that religion can place her daughter on what she perceives to be the right path, Audrey encourages a friendship between Alike and Bina (Aasha Davis), a girl from her church. Unbeknownst to Audrey, Bina is bi-curious. She and Alike share a moment of intimacy, and when Alike finally comes out to her family, the resulting fight forces her to seek refuge with her friend, Laura (Pernell Walker). Following her father's feeble attempt at reconciliation, paired with her mother's staunch opposition to it, Alike elects (a point she reinforces) to find a home away from her native New York.
Alike’s parents, Bina, and Laura serve as her mirror. She's comfortable with herself and while Laura and Bina accept her for who she is, her parents’ denial about her sexual identity is painful. She confuses her night with Bina as a relationship and finds out that Bina was only interested in experimenting. After experiencing rejection following her first sexual experience and rejection from her family, Alike is pushed over the edge. She already feels like an outcast due to her race, sexual preference, and gender; being turned away by a love interest and her family are the final alienations she can take. Pariah displays brave filmmaking by Rees and brave acting by the cast, especially Oduye.