Some have suggested that this releases is dated cynically. In the same month as Pride month, a multinational like SONY (parent company of Criterion) push through a release of a film about Black LGBTQI+ lives and loves. What these rather empty comments miss is that Dee Rees debut film, is much more. It is also vital at such a time, allowing voices other than the dominant or acceptable to a particular strand.  PARIAH follows Brooklyn teenager Alike ( a sublime tender and vulnerable performance from Adepero Oduye). She is a teenage girl who is dealing with desire and love. Her family are less than happy. Rumour is she is gay. Her mother, a church goer, is angry. Alike loves a girl at school and hangs with a rougher side of the tracks friend Laura ( a strong and bold Pernell Walker), who takes her to clubs and they pretend to be boys. Truth and lies, love of family and a father Arthur (Charles Parnell who lights the screen), who is a cop, a man and so vulnerable to be in despair, will all break open and maybe accept Alike for herself.

The path to living as one’s authentic self is paved with trials and tribulations. That is what the blurb says. However MUDBOUND director Dee Rees debut layers a lot of conversations into its slender time frame. Coming-of-age, identity, homophobia in the black community, fear of acceptance and what it takes to accept yourself. Told honestly from Ree’s own experience, it is drenched in empathy. Drenched in emotion. Drenched in the pain of fragmentation. Rees’s script denotes much but its best when it reflects Alike pivot of persons. Alike lives a dual life and so the film is built around this difficulty. Her story is told with an aching intimacy. It leaves you better for it. Better to have been able to see a life lived through trial and acceptance.


Cinematography of BRADFORD YOUNG (Arrival), his so much to offer us here. Its brought to the fore thanks to the 2K transfer. You get this alot with more recent films. They improve with 2 and 4K transfers. Interior scenes work best here. Lit to shape the scene. The clubs spaces, houses and school places all feel as well as look. Though I will note that the lighting on exterior scenes is dampened and in some scenes is so flat due to this.

So start with Dee Rees talking to Michelle Parkerson. This explores the creative realities of the film. How actual was reflected in the film and how the writing process was rich and painful. I then would say Kara Keeling talking about the film deserves attention. Making a case for the film as a meta play on the self is heavy but it rings true enough to be worth indulging. Cassie De Costa essay is the third place to get wrapped in.

• 2K digital transfer, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New conversation between director Dee Rees and filmmaker and scholar Michelle Parkerson
• New cast reunion featuring Rees, Adepero Oduye, Pernell Walker, Kim Wayans, Charles Parnell, and Aasha Davis, moderated by scholar Jacqueline Stewart
• New programme on the making of the film, featuring Rees, cinematographer Bradford Young, production designer Inbal Weinberg, producer Nekisa Cooper, and editor Mako Kamitsuna, moderated by Stewart
• New interview with film scholar Kara Keeling, author of Queer Times,
Black Futures
• English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• PLUS: An essay by critic Cassie da Costa

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