For the record, even though the images to follow would suggest otherwise, Dee Rees’ Pariah is a film which despite focusing on the specific coming-of-age of its protagonist does not eschew the development of its supporting cast. Still, in finding candidates for best shots I kept returning to those shots featuring our teenaged heroine Alike. 17 year old Alike is growing aware and trying be comfortable with her sexuality and Rees film traces her movement from tentative to confident – so, a coming-of-age, in short.
The camera loves Adepero Oduye, and Odudye is so in touch with the mediative nature of Alike. I do not mean to be simplistic, but in that very way she reminds me of Jenny Mellor in An Education (another coming of age drama, littered with great supporting turns but one where my attention was constantly pilfered by Carey Mulligan’s thinking face). It’s not always worry, but as the budding poet that she is Odudye telegraphs the feeling that Alike is constantly philosophising.
She shouldn’t have to be such a heavy thinker, though. She’s only seventeen, it shouldn’t be like the weight of the world is on her shoulders.
And, it’s such a nice (technically, it's a heartbreaking moment in the film) contrast to the conversation she has with her mother at the film’s end. “I love you, mom” she cries as her mother departs, silent.
She gets on the bus and looks out…still thinking….
(*Addendum: Apologies I was ready to cut and print with the above shot as my favourite when I realised it was reminding me of an earlier shot, which I had to go back to find.)
This is a part of Nathaniel's excellent Hit Me With Your Best Shot series.