Film Review: Pariah (2011)

The so-called gay teen movies in Hollywood usually follow a pattern: how the conservative family of a young adult comes in term with his/her alternate sexuality. Pariah does and does not follow the same pattern: and in its ambivalence lies its singularity.

Pariah is a coming age drama of an Afr0-American lesbian girl Alike. Coming from a rather conservative middle-class family it becomes hard for her to embrace her own sexuality as her friend Laura does. Laura, an openly Lesbian girl, from a broken family invokes jealousy as well as pity from Alike for her independence and poverty. The dynamics of their relation, how they both try to find love while Laura secretly being in love with Alike, how they despise each others station in life and yet feels deep compassion for each other is drawn beautifully by the director in small sequences with deliberate calculated amount of emotion. Alike’s relation with her over-protective conservative mother, her busy transgressing father, her sister all are portrayed with the care not expected from the Hollywood stereotypes. And thus Pariah remains very different at its enmeshing the visceral emotions of its characters into a larger scenery.

Alike founds love and heart-break through a girl from her class who wanted to experiment with homosexuality and was not interested in pursuing their relation any further. It is important how afterwards Alike does not find anyone to convey her heart’s content and finally deals with the issue and the world by herself: taking the affirmative and positive measures that kindles hope and joy for herself and the viewers.

All in all, Pariah is a memorable coming of age drama where the protagonist, contrary to the general Hollywood hogwash formula, does not find ‘love’ at the end, but finds something much more important: she finds herself and her position in the world. Pariah is the celebration of individuality at its best and purest form and perhaps that’s why I was so enthralled by this otherwise ordinary flick.


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