Blu-ray Review: ‘Southside With You’ Is Quietly Magical

There’s not a lot of plot to the first fictionally biographical film about President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. So, there is not any dense narrative for me to try and break down into a synopsis. It is literally a first date (which Michelle vehemently insists is not a date) between these two individuals that would eventually become the first black faces of the free world. What there is a lot of, is dialogue. And that dialogue is what makes this movie so magical. 

The events of the film are pretty close to what has been documented before, but the dialogue shapes the essence of these characters in a way that no biopic could do. In the conversations between these brilliant characters, we get a fictionalized account of their history, dreams, aspirations, philosophy, chemistry, and so much more. These conversations are not just simply made up and they are not overly plotting exposition or history lessons. 

Writer/Director Richard Tanne seems to have done his research on these characters and fills their dialogue with accurate assessments of their known history, but that’s just the information. The way these lines are delivered is as organic as it could be. You legitimately feel as if you are watching these people share themselves with one another in the exact way they would have on the fateful day. It gives a lived in feeling to Barack and Michelle that only great fiction can do. 

It also helps tremendously that the actors they chose to play these roles are picture perfect. Not only do they look the part distinctly, but they have all the mannerisms down pat. We have seen these people deliver speeches for years now. They have very clear speech patterns and carry themselves in very specific ways. Actors Parker Sawyers (Barack) and Tika Sumpter (Michelle) nail these patterns like they were born to play these parts. I would not be surprised if they get called to do this again someday.

In the meantime, we have this wonderful little film that evokes the greatness of these two and manages to also deliver a sweet love story at the same time. And if you have not been paying any attention for the last decade, you will finally see the magic that made these individuals so endearing to a generation. If you could care less about that, you still get a sweet little love story. It’s a winning film no matter you at it.

Nathan Ligon

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