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Monday, August 29, 2016

Southside with You - A Film Review

I liked Southside with You. It was a charming, pleasant, and chill movie about Barack and Michelle Obama's first date (albeit with some dramatic license of visiting places and having conversations that likely didn't happen on the date).

Both actors were really great in portraying young versions of the Obamas, and I liked how it portrayed the South Side of Chicago as a warm and close-knit community to grow up in, from Michelle's perspective. I liked how the two found common g...round despite their different upbringings (Barack being biracial and growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia; Michelle being black and growing up in working-class Chicago), because they were both dedicated to advocating on behalf of their people and having close ties to their community.

Sometimes some parts seemed too on-the-nose ("You are great at giving speeches!" "Follow your dreams!" "You can make a difference in the world!"), but that is a minor criticism.

I liked how peaceful the movie was in just following the two on their "not a date" (as Michelle kept re-iterating) through an art museum, a community meeting in a church, parks, a bar, and their reactions to the ending of Do The Right Thing. I especially loved the title sequence, where Barack is driving through Chicago to pick up Michelle as Janet Jackson's "Miss You Much" plays, and it both sets the time period and acts like a complement to the city scenery of black life.

This could be any indie movie about people on a date, and it does earn its comparisons to Before Sunrise, as well as any laid-back dialogue-driven film set in one day. I can't imagine what the Obamas would feel about it, but I felt the film was respectful and not overly worshipful of their characters.

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