Thursday, September 15, 2016

Movie Review: "Southside With You" (2016)

Movie"Southside With You"
Director: Richard Tanne
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 24 minutes
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Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter) is invited to a community meeting by a young summer law intern working at her firm named Barack Obama (Parker Swayers). Though she says it's not a date, Barack has the whole day and a series of activities planned that he hopes will change her mind. 

"Southside With You" is written and directed by Richard Tanne. It chronicles the first-date-but-not-really-a-date between Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson who, spoiler alert, eventually becomes Michelle Obama. Michelle, played by Tika Sumpter, works at a law firm and is the advisor of a Harvard Law student named Barack Obama, played by Parker Sawyers. Barack has invited Michelle to a community meeting, but has a few other outings planned as well. Michelle insists their day together is not a date because she is worried it will reflect poorly on her at her job. She is a woman in a job dominated by men, and because of this, she struggles to be taken seriously. As she mentions at one point, being a black woman brings her 'back down to zero, ' so she must work that much harder to be seen in the workplace. Dating a work colleague would distract from the efforts she has put forward to be recognized in her career accomplishments. Barack, on the other hand, would like her to change her mind and considers their outing a date as he seems quite taken by Michelle. The two walk and talk, discuss their aspirations, their families, their pasts, and some possible regrets. Barack talks about his father leaving when he was younger and dying at a young age. Michelle speaks about her family and how her father worked extra hard all of his life to make sure his kids would go to college and have a better life than he did.

Though you might not believe it considering its protagonists, "Southside With You" mostly stays away from the political aspects of Barack and Michelle Obama, other than a foreshadowing of Barack's abilities as a public speaker and his life as a community outreach person. This is very much a slice of life romantic drama that shies away from who these two individuals are now at the present time. It simply displays the rather humble beginnings of the world's most powerful couple and is done so in a way that, with only walking and talking, remains engaging and interesting, too. This is the story of Barack and Michelle Obama the people, not the politicians. Strip this away and you're left with a common tale most people can relate to regardless of their own personal politics and how they feel about the Obamas now.

Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers do an excellent job of playing these two at a time when their lives were still blossoming and when they both had a long way to go to become the people they want to be. "Southside With You" manages to be a very charming, quaint film because of these believable performances and their excellent chemistry. It's not a very busy or intricate movie, but if you give it a chance, it might impress and surprise you.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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