Pariah, a coming-of-age film that's both unique and universal

by Ariana Pekary, producer

The film Pariah does what any great film or book should do: it makes you care about a specific character while demonstrating themes universal to being human.  In this case, “Alike,” pronounced “ah-lee-kay,” is a 17-year-old black lesbian who is coming to terms with her sexuality.  The themes are real and compelling: gaining independence, coping with jealousy and fear, and then there’s that all-important “first” (and in this case, that includes a first kiss as well).

 

The story is semi-autobiographical, written by Dee Rees.  She also directed the phenomenal cast: Adepero Oduye as “Alike,” Kim Wayans as “Audrey,” the strictly conventional mother, and Pernell Walker as “Laura,” Alike’s best friend who becomes jealous when the younger “Bina” comes around (played by Aasha Davis).  In today’s show, Oduye, Wayans and Rees join producer Nekisa Cooper to discuss the risks and benefits of bringing Pariah to the big screen.

 

Don’t be mistaken, though – this is no male bashing chic-flick.  Charles Parnell is “Arthur,” the loving (even if conflicted) father we all hope to have.  He delivers a tender counter-weight to Wayan’s heartbreakingly obtuse one.  But alas, this pic is not without humor.  In what other interview will you be able to hear Bob Edwards ask a young guest about using a strap-on?  This is a beautiful portrayal of tormented teens, made with adult sophistication.