A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- In theaters: December 28, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: April 24, 2012
- Cast: Aasha Davis, Adepero Oduye, Pernell Walker
- Director: Dee Rees
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sexual content and language
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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