Oduye plays Alike—pronounced A-LEE-kay, and nicknamed Lee—a bright high school student in Brooklyn, New York whose writing teacher encourages her to “go deeper” in expressing herself. This is difficult, because Lee, on the verge of sexual awakening, leads a life of deception. The minute she’s out of sight of her parents, she redoes her hair and dons sexless clothing. Both her mother and father choose to deny the many signals that their daughter is gay. Her mom actively discourages her friendship with a girl she considers disreputable…yet it’s this lone friend who introduces Lee to a realm of new experiences.
Pariah is a modest film that hones in on the specifics of one girl’s life so acutely that her dilemma becomes universally relatable. I don’t know who could watch this open-hearted girl get the cold shoulder from her mother and not be moved. Much of the credit goes to Oduye, who is touching and honest at every turn. She is ably supported by Pernell Walker, Aasha Davis, Charles Parnell, Sahra Mellesse, and Kim Wayans.
Pariah marks the arrival of two exciting new talents: its star and its filmmaker. Don’t miss this vibrant and touching film.