Projections - Movie Reviews

I Like It Like That

Darnell Martin has created a real gem with I Like It Like That, her new debut feature film based on her experience growing up in the Bronx.  With this effort, she has become the first African-American woman to make a major studio movie.  Her talent will be keenly appreciated by all those who enjoy an authentic compelling story.

The film presents the growing pains of a young Latino family struggling to maintain their family values in an environment where few share their priorities.  Chino (Jon Seda) and Lisette (Lauren Velez) have been together for ten years and have three young children.  When Chino, the family's sole breadwinner loses his income, Lisette must seek gainful employment or go on welfare to support her family.  Despite her limited job skills, she is determined to find work rather than branding her family with the stigma of welfare.  Upon finding a job, she stumbles upon renewed self awareness and a sense of her potential.

Many of her new discoveries threaten the life she has created with Chino and this is presented in an emotionally satisfying way.  In a scene I particularly enjoyed, Lisette is confronted with the possibility of losing Chino to another woman.  Her newfound confidence allows her, in an emotionally raw scene, to declare that her life is more than her cherished relationship with her husband.  As her tight neighborhood looks on, she queries, "Do you think this is all I have in life?  I have a life.  I have a life."  Martin truly succeeded with this scene - conveying the significance of each partner's autonomy in a thriving relationship.

Lisette's best friend and confidante is her brother Alexis, a flamboyant transvestite whose strong sense of identity and character are overshadowed by his appearance.  He has a strong sense of family and is one of the most stable figures in the film.  Through his own painful experience of having been emotionally abandoned and physically abused because of what he believes has been an error in the assignment of his gender, he is a strong positive influence for his sister by drilling home to her the prime role she must play in her children's lives.

I loved this film.  Martin has developed truly lovable characters and we are left with a hopeful feeling regarding their future as a family unit.  She has captured the feel of an overcrowded city neighborhood, along with its inherent busy bodies and the potential dangers of drugs.  I found Lauren Velez to be a superb actress.  I strongly recommend this film.  It is such an endearing, hopeful and authentic portrait of the way so many Americans live and an excellent example of parental growth and change.

I Like It Like That

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