Ironically, this film can’t truly be criticized.
Yes, it’s about the arguably historic first date between Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson, but the film knows its audience. The people who like the Obamas will likely enjoy the film, and the people who don’t like the Obamas—the ones who might find ways to criticize it—won’t actually watch it. They’d have to right to be critical. Therefore, it’s kind of a win-win, I think.
The film does not need much of a description, as I’ve already laid it out. Barack and Michelle Obama had a first date, as couples do, and this is the film about it. Barack (Parker Sawyers) was a summer employee at a law firm, and Michelle (Tika Sumpter), was a second-year associate. She was not calling it a date, but he wanted to, and eventually it became one. It was only supposed to last a few hours, after all, but it lasted well past sundown.
The plot isn’t the star of this film, nor are the pretty accurate portrayals of its real-life characters. Since they’re married now, the world knows what happened. The real star of this film is the tenderness and the chemistry between Barack and Michelle, which can truly ignite the screen. Writer-director Richard Tanne made these lofty figures into real people, which is never easy, and he gave the structure a writer’s touch.
The film is short at 80-something minutes, but it’s slow enough to seem longer. I will admit that I was thrown off by the pacing, but that’s truly a personal problem. Southside with You is the cinematic equivalent of an afternoon stroll, a time when the only place you’d like to be is next to someone you love. I dare you to find that less than charming.
Southside with You is in theaters now.
[Editor’s Note: The opening titles are neon pink like the ones in Drive. I was irrationally excited by that.]