‘Southside With You’: When Barack Met Michelle

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“Southside With You” is the no drama Obama first date movie.

southThey met in 1989 in Chicago where Barack was a Harvard law school intern at the firm where Michelle worked.

He was a laid back chain smoker and neighborhood organizer with a charismatic speaking style, she was a nose to the grindstone black woman who worked twice as hard as her white male colleagues.

“It’s not date,” she insists throughout as they drive around, walk around, eat lunch, attend a community meeting, have a beer and end up at a screening of Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.”

Their conversation and debates during all this slowly reveals their strengths, weaknesses and goals and has light “Harry Met Sally” moments.

“Who doesn’t like pie,” complains the khaki pants wearing president-to-be, in a scene that foreshadows the end of the night.

He has an aura of quiet persistence, finding common ground in contrary opinions, she is frustrated and defensive about working on corporate cases. She’s an oak. he’s a willow reaching skyward.

Tika Sumpter who plays Michelle also co-produced the film with short-film director Richard Tanne. Parker Sawyers, who has Obama’s cadence down pat, is a young film veteran who has done five movies since.

Can who they are today be found in this story of who they were then? Based on what we already think of them each of us will provide our own context and biases to this sweet, soft focus portrait of people we already think we know.

It will probably find Ann Coulter throwing up a little bit in her mouth.

“Southside With You”

*** Three stars

With Tika Sumpter, Parker Sawyers.

Produced by Robert Teitl, Richard Tanne, Tika Sumpter.

Written and directed by Richard Tanne. Rated: PG-13, smoking, drug references.

Approximate running time: 84 minutes.

 

 

 

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