Choose Instead of Run

 

If you haven’t already had the opportunity to check out Dee Rees’s film ‘Pariah’ I highly recommend you stop reading this, find the nearest theater and see the next showing.  I finally had the chance to see the film—which has garnered a significant amount of critical success—and was thrilled by Rees’s presentation of a story that too easily could have left an audience filled with sorrow, pity or false empathy.

What struck me almost immediately about ‘Pariah’ was it’s honest portrayal of adolescence.  Alike, a 17-year old black androgynous woman, struggles to find herself amongst the chaos that surrounds her.  Her dysfunctional family life, complicated friendships, her first sexual encounter—and the awkwardness that follows—are things that everyone can relate to despite race, gender identity or sexual orientation.  Of course, these things are also complicated by Alike’s black skin, butch exterior and interest in women, which are central to her character.  Rees does a phenomenal job of balancing general teenage angst and discomfort (think ‘Thirteen’ or ‘Raising Victor Vargas’) and the specific issues that speak to the black LGBTQ community.

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