MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
“Pariah” fell victim to this, and it never clicked with any major group. Part of this, I suppose, is because the subject matter isn’t terribly relateable to anyone not in these specific situations. Such is the challenge in making a film about a young lesbian growing up in the projects in Brooklyn.
The story centers around Alike, a Brooklyn high school girl struggling with her own sexuality. She faces discrimination and bullying at school and rejection from her parents. As she tries to come to terms with who she is, she experiments sexually but also faces cold realities associated with this. It’s a struggle for her which consumes her life.
Like “Albert Nobbs,” Pariah deals with issues of identity and sexuality, though in a vastly different way. “Pariah” isn’t my go-to type of film, but it was interesting nonetheless. Shot in a very hands-off style, the film plays heavy handed at times, especially with the bigoted nature of the parents, but it takes a look at some issues Hollywood is still too scared to tackle.
The issue of sexual identity is still shunned in Hollywood, in many ways. Gay characters on television and in the movies are often caricatures of stereotypes, daring enough to show the existence of this segment of the population but never quite portraying the people as actual people. If you question this, look at the gay characters on television, including shows like “Ugly Betty,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Modern Family.” They put the demographic out there but still make them flamboyant as ever.
In this sense, “Pariah” is an important film because it offers a realistic portrayal of someone dealing with issues of personal sexuality. Unfortunately, it’s not a very relateable film at all. I’m not an African American. I’m not living in the Brooklyn ghetto. I’m not a lesbian. It’s extremely hard for me to relate to the characters presented because it is so steeped in its own demographic.
Still, it’s an important film that unfortunately has been ignored.
The Blu-ray comes with a couple special features, including short featurettes “Dee Rees: A Director’s Style,” “A Walk in Brooklyn” and “Trying Out Identity: Pariah’s Wardrobe.” There’s also access to BD-Live and the pocketBLU app.