Southside with You
Forget everything you thought you knew about the world’s best-loved power couple in preparation for 2016’s UK release of Southside with You. Documenting a real-life tale of “just a girl, standing in front of a boy”, this film is based on a day in the life of Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson – the day they went on their first date. Rewind to summer 1989: Michelle and Barack are working at the same law firm in Chicago, both in the early stages of a career and searching for their true calling in life. Barack invites Michelle to attend a community meeting, which she insists right until the very end of the film is not a date. One art gallery, one picnic in the park, one community meeting, a few drinks and one Spike Lee feature later, and we think she might have changed her mind.
Set on a balmy summer’s day, Southside with You will hit viewers with its warmth right from the offset. Parker Sawyers’ and Tika Sumpter’s performances heighten this sentiment with an easy chemistry that quickly charms the audience and Sawyers’ striking likeness to Obama effectively lends an element of authenticity to the movie. However, as the intensity of the narrative quickly kicks in and the couple converse with a directness that lays their souls bare on the table, it is natural to question how close to reality this film actually is. Can two people who hardly know each other really express such refreshing honesty to that extent on a first date? Or is it just that the rest of us should all be approaching life in this way and are simply grossly inadequate next to this power couple?
That being said, it is tricky to be annoyed at the pair for long, seeing as their kind and charismatic natures shine through the narrative, as they do in real life. From an audience’s point of view, it is exciting that we hold the knowledge, unbeknown to Michelle and Barack, that their love story, as well as their personal careers, are soon to become great successes. Laid out in an extended short-film-esque style, the movie also uses the story of their date to explore political views as well as existing prejudices in modern-day America.
Southside With You is an uplifting film that serves as a celebration of Barack and Michelle Obama, exploring their lives, hopes and dreams before they became the faces of the USA. It will be fascinating to find out how they react to this feature and it is worth a watch to see what you make of it too.
Southside with You is released in cinemas nationwide on 30th September 2016.
Watch the trailer for Southside with You here: