Friday, January 6, 2012

I'm Not Broken, I'm Free

2012 is getting off to a tremendous start.  I just saw Pariah and I am so grateful for storytellers like Dee Rees who wrote and directed.  At it’s core, the film is about a teenage girl who is trying to assert her true self.  This is no small feat during adolescence which is a difficult phase for almost all of us.  The fact that Alike (“Li” for short) is African-American and gay only makes the story more nuanced and heartfelt.  Li’s mother (played wonderfully by Kim Wayans) suspects her daughter is gay, but cannot deal with that reality.  So she copes by trying to choose Li’s friends, buying Li more “girlie” clothes, and co-opting Li’s father into taking some sort of action.  Li herself knows who she is, but leads a somewhat double life to keep the peace.  For example, she changes clothes at school everyday just to avoid her mother’s ire and lies about her whereabouts when she hangs out with another gay teen.  Li’s true outlet is poetry which allows her to voice the anguish she is experiencing.  The movie also delves into universal themes of first love, friendship, rejection, and family dysfunction. I found it interesting to note that the people in the movie who have the most problem with Li’s sexuality are the adults in her life rather than her peers.  But Lee rises above, fortified in knowing that God does not make mistakes and that she is unbroken and free. At times funny, insightful, and painful, the movie is truly the definition of independent film.

Pariah is receiving a lot of worthy accolades and Oscar buzz.  I sincerely hope it wins every award for which it is nominated.  Pariah will be released in metro-Atlanta theaters on January 13, 2012.  Go see it.

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