Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
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  1. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Jan 6, 2012
    100
    This invigoratingly fresh, optimistic film - which features the breathtaking debuts of director Dee Rees and leading lady Adepero Oduye - plunges the audience into a world that's both tough and tender, vivid and grim, drenched in poetry and music and pain and discovery.
  2. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Jan 4, 2012
    100
    Rees presents this vivid, hidden culture with raw honesty.
  3. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    Dec 28, 2011
    100
    The film benefits most of all from Rees' careful screenplay, which dances that shifting line between fear and emergent hope. One of Alike's poems says it best: "Even breaking is opening. And I am broken. I am open."
  4. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Dec 30, 2011
    90
    The movie is anything but combative. Pariah is a tender, sporadically goofy, yet candid examination of emergent identity, a film whose lack of attitude sets it apart from much of the hard-bitten, thug-life storytelling that's dominated African-American cinema for decades.
  5. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Jan 11, 2012
    89
    Yes, it's a coming-out film, but it breaks that mold by being thoroughly unpredictable. It's a coming-of-age film, too, and by virtue of of telling the story of a young, black lesbian, Pariah also ventures into novel territory for a motion picture.
  6. Reviewed by: Calvin Wilson
    Jan 20, 2012
    88
    Like Elizabeth Olsen in "Martha Marcy May Marlene," Oduye brilliantly slips inside the skin of a sensitive young woman who's having trouble finding her place in the world.
  7. Reviewed by: Carrie Rickey
    Jan 12, 2012
    88
    Rees tells Alike's story in vignettes that are sometimes slapstick, sometimes heartbreaking, always tender.
  8. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jan 5, 2012
    88
    The payoffs here begin and end with Oduye, and as we see this character confront her obstacles with bravery, grace and resolve, "Pariah" exhibits many of the same traits, for which filmgoers can be thankful.
  9. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jan 4, 2012
    88
    So what we're seeing here is the emergence of a promising writer-director, an actor and a cinematographer who are all exciting, and have cared to make a film that seeks helpful truths.
  10. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Dec 29, 2011
    88
    The gifted Rees makes finding out a stirring and heartfelt journey. And Oduye is unforgettable. A star is born.
  11. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Jan 12, 2012
    83
    It's a tiny story, told on an intimate scale, and it is rich in emotion, specificity and care.
  12. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Mar 9, 2012
    80
    While Pariah starts out as a film with moments of predictability, it evolves into a smart, compelling -- and optimistic -- portrait of heartbreak and hope.
  13. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jan 12, 2012
    80
    Especially rewarding about Oduye's performance is how she's able to portray that frustration while retaining hope and optimism.
  14. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jan 5, 2012
    80
    It's not fair to say that Ms. Davis steals scenes - one of the movie's strengths is its ensemble cast - but she supercharges every scene she's in.
  15. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jan 4, 2012
    80
    If the narrative of Pariah is predictable and its delivery system rather after-school special, the characters and setting are unforgettable and Lee's coming-of-age story feels both true and moving.
  16. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Dec 29, 2011
    80
    Oduye, especially, is utterly absorbing. Even in those few moments when the movie follows a slightly more straightforward line than it needs, she is always engagingly, beautifully real.
  17. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Dec 28, 2011
    80
    At its soulful heart, Pariah is a stinging street-smart story of an African American teen's struggle to come of age and come out - to the father who still calls her "daddy's little girl" and the mother who quotes the Bible and buys her pink frills.
  18. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Dec 28, 2011
    80
    Pariah wouldn't work without Oduye's luminous performance, capturing the emotional nuances of a character not prone to letting her emotions show.
  19. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    Dec 27, 2011
    80
    The first 10 minutes of Dee Rees's funny, moving, nuanced, and impeccably acted first feature, in which coming of age and coming out are inseparable, sharply reveal the conflicts that 17-year-old Alike (Adepero Oduye) faces.
  20. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Jan 12, 2012
    75
    Occasionally, Rees's script seems to mimic Alike's poetry, and fall into its own slough of earnestness, as the stages of the girl's dawning enlightenment get dutifully ticked off like stations of the cross.
  21. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Jan 5, 2012
    75
    This is a movie that feels in all its vividness, specificity, and honesty - and in its amateurish screenwriting, too - like something found from the early- to mid-1990s, when American independent moviemaking encouraged far more conversations about the sexuality of young, brown girls in movies like "Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.'' and "I Like It Like That.''
  22. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Dec 30, 2011
    75
    The filmmaking is often wayward, the scenes of confrontation sometimes too stagey, but Oduye is a marvelous young actress with a camera-ready face brimming with soulfulness.
  23. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Dec 29, 2011
    75
    The film's resolution is uplifting but not unrealistic, and Pariah exercises restraint by not tying up every loose end.
  24. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Dec 28, 2011
    75
    This is a look at the joy, confusion and heartbreak of adolescence that's both culture- and locale-specific and, at the same time, universal.
  25. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Dec 29, 2011
    70
    Pariah should be a special, important film for gay teens and their parents.
  26. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Dec 27, 2011
    70
    At its heart is an incandescent performance by Ms. Oduye, who captures the jagged mood swings of late adolescence with a wonderfully spontaneous fluency.
  27. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Dec 27, 2011
    70
    First-timer Dee Rees offers a fresh take on the overfamiliar coming-out genre.
  28. Reviewed by: Andrew Barker
    Dec 27, 2011
    70
    Vivid photography, true-to-life moments and a wonderful lead performance compensate for some first-timer missteps in debutante writer-director Dee Rees' Pariah.
  29. 70
    The messy uplift audiences can expect from this butterfly awakening they'll get in spades.
  30. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Dec 29, 2011
    67
    There are times when even its subtleties seem predictable, when it questions dramatic conventions that indie films have already questioned, like the temperament of movie-parents whose children fear coming out of the closet. Yet the film has an abiding sweetness that's ultimately irresistible.
  31. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Jan 3, 2012
    63
    The movie's point, which is impossible to miss, is that it's hard being black & gay in America and, while there's undoubtedly truth in that sentiment, it doesn't necessarily make for a compelling motion picture circa 2011.
  32. Reviewed by: Ed Gonzalez
    Dec 10, 2011
    63
    It's important to talk at length about Pariah's aesthetic because of how it distracts from the emotional truthfulness of the sometimes heartbreaking, by and large gorgeously performed story.
  33. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Dec 20, 2011
    60
    Establishing character, conflict and environment with astounding economy in the film's first ten minutes, Rees demonstrates the sort of filmmaking chops and personal storytelling (the director claims she drew on her own coming-out experience) that suggests the low-key epiphanies of Amerindie cinema at its best.
User Score
6.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 15 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Apr 21, 2012
    10
    Every character seems ripped out of real life. None of them do the things that movie characters are supposed to do. And it adds up to a veryEvery character seems ripped out of real life. None of them do the things that movie characters are supposed to do. And it adds up to a very authentic feeling story, that makes its point without ever forcing the issue, or resorting to sentimentality. Loved this movie. Full Review »
  2. Jan 22, 2012
    9
    Adepero Oduye is wonderful as Alike, and the rest of the cast is wonderful as well. A good coming out story. You would think that gays andAdepero Oduye is wonderful as Alike, and the rest of the cast is wonderful as well. A good coming out story. You would think that gays and lesbians would be accepted by their parents in this day and age, but we are apparently still a long way off. This movie has been done before many times with gay males, it was refreshing to see the lesbian version from a black family of intelligent, yet dysfunctional people. Although it is mostly drama, there are humorous scenes as well. Full Review »
  3. Jan 2, 2012
    7
    Adepero Oduye portrays Alike (pronounced ah-lee-kay), a 17-year-old African-American woman who lives with her parents Audrey and Arthur (KimAdepero Oduye portrays Alike (pronounced ah-lee-kay), a 17-year-old African-American woman who lives with her parents Audrey and Arthur (Kim Wayans and Charles Parnell) and younger sister Sharonda (Sahra Mellesse) in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood. Alike is quietly but firmly embracing her identity as a lesbian. With the sometimes boisterous support of her best friend, out lesbian Laura (Pernell Walker), Alike is especially eager to find a girlfriend. At home, her parents' marriage is strained and there is further tension in the household whenever Alike's development becomes a topic of discussion. Pressed by her mother into making the acquaintance of a colleague's daughter, Bina (Aasha Davis), Alike finds Bina to be unexpectedly refreshing to socialize with. Wondering how much she can confide in her family, Alike strives to get through adolescence with grace, humor, and tenacity - sometimes succeeding, sometimes not, but always moving forward. Full Review »