To watch this film is to be in the presence of a remarkable talent -- Dee Rees. This is an unusually accomplished piece of filmmaking, not simply for someone starting out, but for anyone with a couple of decades of writing and directing behind them.
Ms. Rees is that good.
Add to this her sensitivity and passion in exploring a young woman of color as she navigates her inner awakenings, her growing awareness of who she is. Ms. Rees handles this with the confidence of a long-time pro. And with the understanding of one who very much understands the roiling waters of her young character's dilemma.
Ms. Rees handles the young actor, Adepero Oduye, with equally assured sensitivity. Ms. Oduye takes over the screen without showcasing herself, often underplaying a moment, letting us come to her. There's no 'emoting' ... for proof of the young Ms. Oduye's impressively wide range, check her out in the current Richard Gere film, The Dinner. In her scenes with Gere, Ms. Oduye dominates the frame, an old scene-stealer like Richard Gere no match for the oh-so talented Adepero Oduye. She wipes him off the screen! A smashing talent, Ms. Odoye, and smashing-looking, to boot.
Though the film works for both the LGBT and (I suppose, can't speak from experience) non-LGBT audience, it is especially satisfying and heartening to see us portrayed with such unflinching honesty and understanding. With Pariah and Moonlight, directors of color are showing the way home when it comes to exploring our LGBT world.
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