This Sundance feature opener takes a different slant to the generic lesbian coming out movie. Director Dee Rees chooses, much as Rashaad Green does in Gun Hill Road (also showing at the Festival), to root her story in a specific community, this time black working class Brooklyn. The film becomes doubly interesting – offering an insight into a young black lesbian’s journey, as well as a spy cam into an aspirant lower middle class black family ringed by convention, expectation, religion and tradition.
Alike’s (Adepero Oduye) parents are typical of the neighbourhood – Arthur is a stressed out policeman and Audrey a housewife and aspirant community leader, heavily involved in church and charity. The two no longer see eye-to-eye, Audrey’s relentless righteousness pushing away her easier-going husband. Mother and daughter fare no better; Audrey’s iron grip on her daughter is tested to the limits as Alike takes her first tentative lesbian steps. Into the mix is thrown Laura, Alika’s bull-dyke friend, and the very cool Bina, who may just prove to be a friend with benefits. The path to true love and family peace is never easy however, and as Audrey ratchets up the pressure, the unexpected happens, forcing a new, but unexpected twist.
Both Adepero Oduye’s tough, layered performance as Alike, and Bradford Young’s gritty cinematography (he won a Sundance Award for it) are special, and the film’s other highlight is the music – most notably Khia’s brilliant My Neck, My Back (Lick It).
Courtesy of the filmmaker and Focus Features International.
Dee Rees was Guest of the 2011 Festival and travels courtesy of the US Embassy.
Sundance Film Festival 2011 – Excellence in Cinematography Award
Sundance Film Festival 2011 – Grand Jury Prize (Nominated)
Time Warner 2008 – Storytelling Award
London Film Festival (2011)
Toronto International Film Festival (2011)
Sundance Film Festival (2011)
- Aasha Davis
- Adepero Oduye
- Charles Parnell
- Kim Wayans
- Pernell Walker