You know how when you’re wanting to go to the movie theater and you look up all the films that are showing and there are alway at least three that you’ve never heard of, let alone have any interest in seeing? Well, good news! I’ve seen those movies. I spend most of my theater experiences in art house theaters watching those movies that you’ve never heard of and then never watch. Yeah, I’m that hipster asshole. My goal with this is to spread information out about these films, that way you can decide one of the following. “That actually sounds pretty cool! I want to see that now!” or “Man, I’m glad I decided to go see the new superhero movie!”. So without further ado, here is my article and review of Pariah.
So the other day, Moonlight won Best Picture at the Oscars. Now if you have followed the podcast, you would know that I am a fan of this decision. I was talking with a couple of my friends about this and one of them mentioned this film. Specifically, they said, “If you liked Moonlight, then you will love Pariah!” And that is the reasoning behind my decision to finally watch this film, even though I had heard of it ever since it’s release.
So let’s start this review by saying that this is no Moonlight. Or maybe it would be for some, but it certainly isn’t a Moonlight for me. Pariah follows a high school girl in Brooklyn as she has her first love with a girl and proceeds to eventually come out to her parents. So one thing I will say off the bat is that I am automatically going to connect with Moonlight more solely because I am a man. If I was a woman I might connect with Pariah more. I honestly don’t know. So I will attempt to review it less on connection and more of the physical, is this film good or not.
Let’s start with the cinematography because that was one of the main points of praise for the film. When the film premiered at Sundance, it was awarded the Excellence in Cinematography. I’ve heard people complain in the past about the various awards given out at Sundance and how meaningless and nonsensical they can be. But there is something in the cinematography in this film. The cinematography is done by Bradford Young, who is an up-and-coming cinematographer with works like Selma and Arrival under his belt with this being his first film. And you can tell that he has talent, even if it is unfocused. The color palette alone in the film is very beautiful. I often find films dealing with actors of color going to a color palette of greens or blues, as a way to compliment the skin in a way that doesn’t white actors. This film is an example of this done well, another comparison to Moonlight being that the color palettes are very similar. The issue I have with the cinematography is more that the entire film is done handheld. And every time I complain about an indie film did handheld, I get the same response. That being, “Well you are supposed to feel like you are in the room with them like a POV!” Yeah, but when my friends fight in front of me, I don’t start breakdancing. So the POV is kind of stupid. It just makes the film harder to watch because I am focusing too hard on figuring out what I’m looking at.
The acting in the film is great. Despite this film coming out in 2011, the actors have really not done anything else since this film. And the acting, where it isn’t revolutionary, is pretty good. I would especially like to point to the father character played by Charles Parnell. He was my favorite out of all the performances because his character is layered in a way that I rarely ever see in a film. Throughout the film, you can tell that his character is dealing with something that is frustrating and tiresome but has nothing to do with the main character. That frustration that the character is dealing with is never fully explored, and you could view this as a bad thing. You could argue that this is poor character development. But when it plays out on screen, to me at least, it feels more like realism. The character is living in the real world. Not in a world where everything revolves around the main character. He has his own struggles that we don’t see, just like how everyone has struggles that we don’t see. So you might see that as a complaint, but I see it as a positive. At least in this instance.
But yeah, it’s not Moonlight, to me anyways. But it is still a good time. If you wanted something like Moonlight to fill some kind of void or whatever, maybe check this one out. It is very much an LGBT film, so if you are someone who doesn’t enjoy those stories, I would recommend skipping it. But if you want something different, yet the same, check out Pariah.
Pariah is currently available on Netflix.