Pariah Movie Poster Image




Smart, sad, empowering film about a teen coming out.
  • Review Date: December 28, 2011
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie's most consistent message is that no matter what anyone says or who they are, you should be true to yourself. Determining who you really are and being able to be proud of that is a challenge, but it's worth it.

Positive role models

Alike is the most sympathetic character; she's caring and aims for authenticity. Though she sometimes stumbles in her quest to be true to her real self, she at least tries very hard to be as honest as she can while protecting herself, since so many people around her can't or won't accept her for what she is.


A husband and wife argue loudly and sometimes viciously. Men leer and harass a young woman at a store. Some references to street crime; also, some characters are homophobic and refer to LGBT people with slurs.


A young woman seduces a female classmate who has never had a sexual experience before (no nudity, but some kissing). Teenage girls ogle strippers at a bar. One scene shows a clothed woman wearing a phallic sex toy. A man is having an affair -- viewers don't see any of the trysts, but there are major hints -- but vehemently denies it.


Coarse language throughout includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "d--k," and the "N" word.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Underage drinking and pot smoking at bars, parties, and gatherings.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Pariah is a compelling coming-of-age story that shows what life is like for a teenage girl who's young, black, female, and gay. There are heartbreaking moments as well as make-you-think storylines, which include fairly mature subject matter -- including a "first time" love scene that may be too intense for younger teens (kissing, but no nudity). Expect plenty of forceful language (including the "N" word and "f--k"), some underage drinking and drug use (marijuana), and painful scenes in which the main character struggles to be honest with her parents about her sexual identity.

What's the story?

After leaving for school every day, Alike (Adepero Oduye) -- a high school senior in New York -- changes out of the feminine clothes her mother (Kim Wayans) buys for her to become more of who she is: a lesbian. Living two lives isn't easy. She's inexperienced and doesn't know how to go about finding a girlfriend. Her best friend, Laura (Pernell Walker), thinks a strip club might be the answer; meanwhile, a new classmate intrigues Alike ... and the feeling is mutual.

Is it any good?


PARIAH is brave. Pariah is heart-wrenching. Pariah captures the struggles of girls like Alike eloquently. So there are plenty of reasons to see it. Nevertheless, be prepared for a film that could leave you depressed (it's so intense that it can be exhausting). It's also somewhat predictable. The script paints the big picture but relies on unoriginal plot standbys (parents in denial, nurturing teachers offering outlets).


Once you have a grasp of Alike's troubles, you can almost see the resolutions coming. That's a pity, because the acting here is truly stunning. Still, flaws and all, Pariah has a powerful message. And how exciting it is to see the ending unfold after rooting for Alike all along.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Alike's situation. What is she afraid of? Is she a relatable character? Would you consider her a role model?

  • How does the movie portray drinking and drug use? Are there realistic consequences?

  • What is the takeaway from Pariah? Is it difficult to compartmentalize and shield part of yourself from your family? Should you have to?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 28, 2011
DVD release date:April 24, 2012
Cast:Aasha Davis, Adepero Oduye, Pernell Walker
Director:Dee Rees
Studio:Focus Features
Topics:Friendship, Great girl role models, High school
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:sexual content and language

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bySugarwater February 23, 2012

Aceeptance and Love

It makes you truly think outside of the box and it dismisses any preconceived notions that you have regarding the LGBT community. The two major themes are acceptance and love. While many may not accept this community we are still commanded to love and that is all you can do. If everyone were alike then we would not be able to share and celebrate each other differences.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 13 years old Written bylittlemonster98 January 15, 2012

Sad movie and very bad morals...

This movie is sooooooo sad, because it is about a young girl who is not only made fun of because she is black, but because she is also gay. People are not tolerating and this movie is full of racial and homophobic swears. Also there is one very awkward scene of sex and some drugs and left for adults
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written by915071 May 13, 2013


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