Dee Rees’s short film about double identity and blossoming homosexuality in a world confined mainly to strict authoritarianism and religious values will strike a chord with many homosexual individuals in Rees’s target audience who followed the same path that main character does here. “Pariah” is about a young girl named Alike in the Bronx who is kept under lock and key by a mother who may be on to her secret clubbing at Lesbian bars, and she struggles daily to maintain her girlish personality around her mom while also trying to embrace the tomboyish Lesbian persona that she’s gradually accepting as her true identity. The problem for her is finding a way to finally tell her mom once and for all and risk the abandonment that she fears every time she comes close to being discovered. But Rees hints that perhaps her lesbianism was made apparent too long ago, and her parents are just ignoring the elephant in the room, which inevitably becomes a powder keg of eventual revelations and complications for Alike who realizes sooner or later that she’ll have to face to herself and her parents that she is indeed gay.
“Pariah” is a fantastic piece of emotional filmmaking that also acts as a form of catharsis for Director Rees who manages to grab some great performances from the entire cast with a gut wrenching and all too true to life climax that is staged with grace and the hope for better possibilities, not just for her, but for everyone forced to hide who they really are day in and day out.