Southside with You
Directed by Richard Tanne
Starring Tika Sumpter, Parker Sawyers, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Fred Nance Jr. and Donald Paul
Chronicles a single day in the summer of 1989 when the future president of the United States, Barack Obama, wooed his future First Lady on an epic first date across Chicago's South Side.
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★★★★ review by Brian Tallerico on Letterboxd
The best superhero origin story of the year.
★★★½ review by Jared on Letterboxd
I'd be hard-pressed to find someone who actively disliked this sweet and slight film depicting Michelle and Barack's first date, before they cemented their legacies within American history (Obama '16!). It plays very much like the Before trilogy but with a significantly less well-written script; still managing to find a delicate flow and rhythm despite some clunky bits of dialogue. The key difference is that Southside With You has a subtle agenda; to paint a portrait of these people that may hint at the great things to come. It's not perfect or powerful, but it's really what we need in this circus of an election; a gentle reminder that (usually) behind these political titans is a human being. A human being who came from more humble beginnings, with a idealist agenda and a fundamental desire to make a difference. I don't blame anyone for hating modern politics, it's a shitshow. But buy a ticket for Southside With You, and remind yourself that there is hope after all.
*my rating doesn't reflect how much I enjoyed this, please see this*
★★★★ review by Dawson Joyce on Letterboxd
Clearly inspired by Richard Linklater's Before trilogy, Southside with You is a surprisingly charming, subtle, and affectionate romantic drama with strong lead turns from Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter as Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson.
★★★½ review by Nick Da Silva on Letterboxd
Southside With You or (Barack And Michelle Obama Before Sunrise).
★★★★ review by Raul Marques on Letterboxd
Early on the film, as the characters begin to discuss the validation of their meeting as a date, Michelle gives this poignant little speech about what getting involved with the first cute black guy that comes in the office would mean to her as a black woman in the still invariably prejudiced law firm she works on, and Barack immediately responds by saying, with the most charming of smiles on his face, "You think I'm cute?", and that pretty much sums up what's the movie.
It's a heartwarming look at the world's most powerful couple blossoming love, yes, but is also a astoundingly affectionate portrayal of the inner politics of what make someone truly connect with one another, starting with the profound empathy for each other's upbringing, or the sum of experiences that helped to build character and shape personalities, which in itself is tied to the larger point, brought out during a future-POTUS' soulful sermon, about letting go of judgments.
Sure, the filmmaking could've been more refined, but so much is to be said by the text, acting and the cinematography alone, that this doesn't hurt the picture as bad as it probably should. Fortunately, both extraordinarily charismatic performances are far from sounding like impressions and, most of all, are able to communicate through body language what the script either implies or doesn't mention, which actually earns the comparison to the 'Before' trilogy more than the fact that is a talky romance picture that takes place entirely during a single day.
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