‘South Side With You’ Blu-Ray Review: The Obamas, The Early Years
A delightful telling of a story that we thankfully know has a happy ending, Southside with You portrays the story of the initial meeting and first date of Barack and Michelle Obama. The movie begins in 1989 and we meet Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter) who is working for a Chicago law firm after recently graduation from Princeton Law School. Sumpter portrays Michelle as a poised and focused lawyer who feels the pressure of proving herself among her white male coworkers. She is tasked with mentoring new summer intern Barack Obama (Parker Sawyers), much to her annoyance, and assumes this guy just just another smooth-talker that she would never take seriously. She is, in fact, determined not to date him in an effort to avoid anything that could hinder her progress at work.
Sawyers, smitten from the beginning, figures out a way to get to know his future wife by asking her to attend a community meeting where he will be speaking. He promises her it will be only work-related and is absolutely not a date. After witnessing Sawyers’ poise at the meeting, Michelle realizes that she hasn’t just met another smooth-talking black man. She is impressed after the meeting, so much so that she agrees to see Spike Lee‘s Do the Right Thing that night. Although there aren’t the same stakes in a movie of fiction where we wonder if the couple will make it, we are able to see a lot of the internal struggles our future First Lady had to deal with in the possibility of dating someone she works with. She has worked so hard to excel in a world with not only few people of color but few women as well. At the movie theater, Sumpter and Sawyers run into a high-ranking white associate at their law firm with his wife and although their boss doesn’t say anything condemning them, Michelle is embarrassed of how it looks.
The story ends with a stop at Baskin Robbins and we see their first kiss with all the first time endearing awkwardness that comes at the beginning of relationship that will last.
Written and directed by Richard Tanne and from executive producer John Legend, Southside with You is a look at the early stages of both relationship and career of our First Couple and a nice keepsake to have as they leave the White House so recently.
Special features include commentary with Tanne as well at a look at the original artwork and animations.