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Film Review: 'Southside with You' Charming Look Into Obama Romance

by Todd A. Smith


(Photo Credit: Roadside Attractions)



Charming, Enjoyable Look into Obama Relationship 




Portraying President Barack Obama in a biopic like “Southside with You” has to produce similar apprehension as playing Martin Luther King, Jr. in a biopic.

Their lives have been so dynamic, and their persona so big and their voices so iconic, it would be hard not to be reduced to some cheap imitation of them.

Like “Selma” with King, “Southside with You,” chooses to focus on a particular moment in Obama’s life, his first date with future First Lady Michelle Robinson Obama.

The film is not great, but definitely gets into the nuts and bolts of what makes the two tick and what attracted them to each other that day in Chicago in 1989.

“Southside with You,” begins with Barack and Michelle preparing for their first time with each other away from the law offices where they work.

Michelle is a second year associate and Barack is an intern, spending the summer away from Harvard Law School.

Her dad is battling a physical ailment, but still finds time to poke fun at her date’s name and the fact that Michelle’s hair needs some maintenance.

Although it is clearly a date, Michelle insists that it is not and has to remind Barack every other minute of the scandal it would cause at work if they became involved romantically.

Despite not being a date, their union must have been meant to be or Barack was the smoothest cat on the Southside, because the whole day is like a well-planned job interview or audition, which the first date usually is.

The two Ivy League graduates (Barack’s undergraduate years were spent at Columbia University, while Michelle spent her days at Princeton University) visit an art gallery, dance to African drums and attend a community organizing event in which Barack is a bigger star in the city than Michael Jordan or Oprah Winfrey.

In spite of knowing where “Southside with You” is going from the get-go, Tika Sumpter (Michelle) and Parker Sawyers (Barack) do a good job of showing the strength and poise that have made them Black America’s biggest poster couple of all-time.

As previously stated, Sumpter and Sawyers are successful because they capture the First Couple’s style without resorting to cheesy impressions.

“Southside with You” shows the Obamas’ vulnerability and humanity, exposing some imperfections that many in the limelight might attempt to hide.

Like the historic 2008 election, the Obamas just seem like a relatable and likeable couple.

Even some of Barack’s language is spot on.  When the couple talks about religion he admits that he is still evolving on that topic.  He used evolving to discuss his changing stance on social issues like gay marriage.

From an early age, his words were still inspirational.

Unfortunately, not enough detail is given to the hairstyles of the late 1980s.

At the “Do the Right Thing” screening, the haircuts that the extras were rocking were more 2016 than 1989.

However, moviegoers will not watch “Southside with You” for the banging 1980s music and hairstyles, but to get to know the real Obamas during their young adult years.


From Sumpter and Sawyers’ performances, it is clear that the two were meant for each other and were meant for great things in the future.






This article was published on Friday 26 August, 2016.
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