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Pariah Criterion Blu-ray Review

“Pariah” is a triumphant directorial debut from Dee Rees.

2011’s “Pariah” marked the feature length film debut from writer/director Dee Rees (who is perhaps best known for “Mudbound”). The story revolves around a 17 year old back teenager named Alike who is coming to terms with her own sexuality as a lesbian. Alike’s best friend Laura (who is openly a lesbian) knows about Alike’s sexuality, but her parents do not yet know as she fears they won’t accept her (especially her religious and over protective mother). As the story progresses, storylines involving Alike finding love with a friend named Bina, Alike’s parents strained relationship, and Alike’s writing skills emerge.

To summarize “Pariah” is to sell the film short. Until you actually see Dee Rees film you won’t see just how groundbreaking of a movie it is both in terms of black cinema and as an LGBTQ movie. Even at a scant 86 minutes, “Pariah” has so much to say. It’s a coming-of-age movie, a movie about sexuality, a movie about acceptance, a movie about family, and a movie about a young woman forging her own path and living her own life. It’s the type of raw indie movie that looks and feels real thanks to the direction by Dee Rees, the extraordinary acting, and the intimate/in your face cinematography by Bradford Young (who is fast becoming one of the best and most innovative modern cinematographers). The film may be 10 years old at this point, but it feels as fresh and relevant now as it did then. 

As I mentioned, the cast is aces. Adepero Oduye (who has since gone on to have a major career) gives such a convincing, vulnerable, and moving performance as Alike. Aasha Davis brings a lot of personality to the role of Bina. Kim Wayans brings a great deal of depth as Alike’s judgmental, controlling, and frustrated mother. Pernell Walker impresses as Laura (who has her own poignant story arc) while Charles Parnell shines as Alike’s father.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? The 2K digital transfer provides a nice upgrade that also maintains the raw visual style.

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? From the music to the sounds of the city, this is a solid 5.1 track.


Extras:
* A booklet with an essay by writer Cassie Da Costa
* A new remote interview with film scholar/author Kara Keeling who talks about “Pariah” and its importance in LGBTQ cinema.
* “The Making Of Pariah: Department Heads”- Film scholar Jacqueline Stewart moderates this remote conversation with Dee Rees, DP Bradford Young, production designer Inbal Weinberg, producer Nesika Cooper and editor Mako Kamitsuna that goes into the film and its visual style.
* “Cast Reunion” moderated by Jacqueline Stewart that features Dee Rees and cast members Adepero Oduye, Pernell Walker, Kim Wayans, Charles Parnell and Aasha Davis. Expect discussions about the characters and the script.
* “Dee Rees And Michelle Parkerson”- A 35 minute conversation between Dee Rees and filmmaker/scholar/author Michelle Parkerson that largely revolves around Rees experience in making her first feature film “Pariah.”

June 24, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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