Pariah ★★★★

This is one of the more impressively shot independent films of the last couple of years. Everyone involved with it - particularly its newcoming star, Adepero Oduye, should be put on a watchlist for what's to come from them next.

Extended into a feature-length project after writer/director Dee Rees created the 28-minute short of the same name in 2007, Pariah earns its moments of raw emotion by applying perceptive writing and perfect casting to create realistic domestic hardships. Oduye's performance as teenager, Alike - who does her best to hide her sexual preferences from her parents as long as she possibly can - finds just the right notes the entire way and should be noted alongside Shareeka Epps in Half Nelson as one of the best breakouts from an African American female over the last decade.

There's also a nice dramatic turn from Kim Wayans (yes, the Wayans' sister) as Alike's mom, who adamantly opposes her daughter's lifestyle of which she just now finds out about. At the other end of the family, the father stands at a more understanding spot, which makes for some compelling, strongly played sequences that I believe will ring true to anyone who has went through anything similar. Charles Parnell is absolutely fantastic in the role of Alike's father. Ultimately, this is a very good feature-length debut and a better film than Precious, the movie it gets compared to on a frequent basis, but unnecessarily.