This harsh and provocative title references a brilliant portrayal of a gifted seventeen-year-old student coming to terms with her sexuality. “Alike” (sensational performance by Adepero Oduye) has few doubts about her sexual proclivities; her middle-class family poses the vicissitudes, tumult; shedding pain, confusion and obfuscation on daily life.
A fractured marriage, parents in denial: Audrey and Arthur (solid, fine, legitimate depictions by Kim Wayans, Charles Parnell); “Lee” is Daddy’s girl, a straight A- student, poet, prize of his being; Audrey, whose life is informed by her religion berates Lee on her taste and selection of clothes, friends, lifestyle; she is terrified of Lee’s choices but more terrified that Lee is a product of her womb. The family friction and dynamics result in electrifying scenes, simmering with a complex combination of antagonism and love.
Lee might be an outcast, a “pariah” in her home but she is surrounded by friends accepting her preferences; this is the twenty-first century and a semiautobiographical film by Dee Rees; a debut that rings resoundingly with intelligence, truth and realism.
Lee’s poetry is the core of her character; she is the butterfly emerging from the sarcophagus of the cocoon; she flies like the light, vanquishing darkness; she accepts herself knowing that “God does not make mistakes”. She is original, strong, a secure individual, a scholar seizing the day, composing, living and loving.