I Like It Like That (film)

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I Like It Like That
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Darnell Martin
Produced by Ann Carli
Victor De Jesus
Wendy Finerman
Lane Janger
Stephen Lloyd
Diana Phillips
Tracy Leigh Vilar
Written by Darnell Martin
Starring Lauren Velez
Jon Seda
Griffin Dunne
Jesse Borrego
Rita Moreno
Lisa Vidal
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • October 14, 1994 (1994-10-14)
Running time
104 minutes
Country United States
Language English

I Like It Like That is a 1994 comedy-drama film about the trials and tribulations of a young Puerto Rican couple living in the poverty-stricken New York City neighborhood of the South Bronx. The film stars Lauren Velez, Jon Seda, Lisa Vidal, Griffin Dunne, Jesse Borrego and Rita Moreno, and was written and directed by Darnell Martin who, in her filmmaking debut, became the first African-American female filmmaker to take helm of a film produced by a major film studio.

The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival.[1]


Lisette Linares (Velez) is a young mother of three children, married to Chino (Seda), a bicycle messenger. Although he is always reliable as the breadwinner of the family, Chino is having an affair with the neighborhood hoe, Magdalena (Vidal). One summer evening, a blackout sweeps the neighborhood, and Chino finds himself in jail after being arrested for looting.

Faced now with the reality of keeping her family together with the main breadwinner in jail, Lisette, with the encouragement of her transgender sister Alexis (Borrego), decides to give her dream of becoming a print model a chance. As she happens to be in the right place at the right time, Lisette lands a job as the personal assistant to a major record label producer (Dunne), who is trying to sign a major Latin music group (played by the real life group the Barrio Boyzz). After that, Chino is released from prison by Magdalena and her father, who reveals that she has a son named Richie, who she claims that Chino is the father. This causes Lissette to hit rock bottom and moves in with Alexis. While at work, she has sex with her boss, but during their sex, he answers a number of phone calls, which frustrates Lissete. Nonetheless, she is pleasured. The next day, Chino tries to go back to his job, but is fired, due to his criminal record. Lisette confronts Chino to prove that she had sex with another man to get even with Chino.

Chino, then takes the kids out for ice cream, his extremely rebellious son, Lil’ Chino, asks if he could buy ice cream, but Chino gloats him that he needs to work for it in order to buy things. His son shows him the money and allows him, but when his younger daughter notices that he has new shoes and pants, Chino realizes that his son has become a drug dealer. Then Chino, furiously lashes out at his son, he pushes him towards a mural with a picture of a relative of Chino’s who died when he was a drug dealer. He whips his own son in front of the whole block, while his friends laugh at him. Alexis notices the comotion and tries to stop him.

Alexis then points out that he’s just a little boy and puts him down, but suddenly runs away. The kids are still laughing and still insult Lil Chino that he’s still weak. Chino, infuriated, then beats a kid from the crowd and whips him, the dealer attempts to draw a gun but Chino manages to disarm him while fellow neighbors help Chino whip the boy. Lil Chino is then found siting in front of Alexis’ apartment door. He tells Lisette that he wants to stay with her but she rejects him, believing that he’ll still be disrespectful towards her. Chino then finds Lil Chino and takes him home. Back at the apartment, Chino and his friend place Richie to bed, he reveals to Chino that he is the father which infuriates Chino, as he been played by Magdalena this whole time. Alexis and Lisette have a discussion about the kids, as Alexis points out to Lisette that she’s just like their estranged mother. But she denies this and Alexis changes and leaves to visit their mother.

When Alexis arrives over there, her mother opens the door, she reacts disgusted by Alexis’ appearance. Alexis tries her hardest to make amends with her mother but when her father comes out of his room to check on the noise, he reacts with an aggressive look on his face. Back at Alexis’ apartment, Lisette hears the door open and notices that Alexis came back. When Lisette comes to check on Alexis she notices her face all beaten up and asks what happen, but Alexis tell her that she was right about their mother, that she hasn’t accepted Alexis for being transgender.

The next day at work, Lisette’s boss, wants to have sex again, but she tries to reject him. He stops, when Lisette tells him, he’s “not a sexual person”, the two begin to argue, which results in her nearly quitting. They resolve to continue their working relationship. Lisette arrives back at the apartment, she tries to talk to her children and asks for their forgiveness, mostly from Lil Chino, which he does finally. Chino arrives later, back from his new job as a security officer. Both discuss about the many flaws between them in their marriage, and Chino finally tells Lisette the truth about Magdalena’s baby. The scene ends with Lisette pointing out to Chino that he never thinks about the “other person”, which he then replies, “Good night, other person”, despite that it’s morning already. And Lisette lays on the sofa with a smile on her face.



A prominent theme in the film is transmisogyny. Lisette’s sister Alexis (Borrego) is an important figure in constructing womanhood in the film, as Lisette reifies her womanhood through downplaying her sister's womanhood as somehow less authentic than hers. Other themes include anti-Black attitudes within the Latina/o community, a woman’s often conflicting yearning for both independence and heterosexual love, and the construction of masculinity through sexuality.


  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: I Like It Like That". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 

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