Two Stellar Leads Make ‘Southside With You’ A Pleasant Little Date With History

GameStop, Inc.

southside-with-you-002

Having been in the public eye for over decade now, it can be hard to think of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama as just regular people meeting on a first date on a summer afternoon in Chicago. But that fateful meeting between the two was the source of inspiration for writer-director Richard Tanne’s Southside With You, which is a fictionalized imagining of the first date between Barack and Michelle. It’s been said many times before that 90% of directing is casting, and the stellar lead performances save Southside With You from some heavy-handed dialogue that seem to lift more lines from speeches by the Obamas than Melania Trump.

When we first see Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter) she’s getting ready to go out with a young man named Barack Obama (Parker Sawyers). The two work together at a Chicago law firm, and Michelle is his superior. Though the young and brash Barack has his eyes set on Michelle, the young woman is adamant that their day together is certainly not a date. Before taking Michelle to a community meeting, Barack takes his non-date to an art museum. Later, they have sandwiches in the park and discuss their family, future, and careers. Their night culminates with a round of drinks before attending a screening of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. After an entire afternoon and evening together, the two form a bond that will documented in countless history books over the course of American history.

The performances and chemistry between Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers is the saving grace of Southside With You. Sawyers does an excellent job in capturing the cadence that Barack Obama uses, and it especially shows in the lone scene at the community center when the future president gives an inspirational speech. Conversely, Tika Sumpter plays Michelle as a driven woman that lives with a lingering question as to whether she’s achieving her lofty goals in life by working for the prestigious law firm. But it’s really the little moments between the two that come across with the most potency, like the way Sumpter wordlessly conveys Michelle’s adamance in paying for her own lunch. Parker Sawyers gets his own little moments through Barack’s cigarette smoking, the actor consistently playing coy with his habit. Southside With You showcases two emerging talents, and their excellence is confirmed by the fact that movie wouldn’t be very good without their immense talents.

Southside With You is leans so heavily on its leads because the script from Richard Tanne lacks subtlety. Barack and Michelle talk over a number of deeply personal issues on their first date, and explain their inner thoughts as if their remarks were prepared for a televised speech. This tendency is at its most egregious when a young Barack Obama is giving his rousing speech at the community meeting. It presents him as someone who has always had this magical ability to inspire with words; this young Barack Obama isn’t a rough draft of the future president, merely someone younger. To Tanne’s credit, every time there’s a groan inducing nod towards the future with heavy-handed dialogue, there are those smaller moment between the two that are touching and comedic. When it’s obvious, Southside With You stops just short of having Barack proclaim, “Yes we can!”

Tanne’s direction and the cinematography Patrick Scola do an excellent job of recreating the cityscape of 1989 on a budget. The direction is never really flashy, but there are a number of exquisite compositions that serve the situations of the characters. There’s a pleasant texture to the visuals of Southside With You, a soft visual style that compliments the two stellar leads.

A minor stroll on a summer’s day, Southside With You is the Tika Sumpter and Parker Pawyers show. It’s not that I believed either one of them in their roles because they were able to capture the measured tone of their subject’s public speaking. It’s not that they matched their vocal inflection or big smiles. It’s that I believed the chemistry between the two. Even when the dialogue devolves into the platitudes of foreshadowing, it’s the two stars that keep things feeling natural. In its lone similarity to major blockbusters, the biggest problem with Richard Tanne’s movie is it consistently keeps winking at the future. When Southside With You is focused on its present, it’s nothing but a charming, touching movie. We already know where Barack and Michelle wind up. Make us care about how they got there. Southside With You only does that some of the time, but when it does there’s magic in the air.

Southside With You
  • Overall Score
3

Summary

Writer-director Richard Tanne’s fictionalized version of Barack and Michelle Obama’s first date, Southside With You, features some heavy-handed dialogue that winks at their future, but the film is saved by the two stellar leading performances from Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers.

Anytime Costumes

Leave a Reply

FanboyNation
Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
‘Fancy Dance’ Tackles an Important Subject, Poorly – Review

Lily Gladstone’s incredible performance cannot save ‘Fancy Dance‘ from a mediocre...

‘Empire Queen’ Creative Team Talk New Fantasy Film – Interview

Co-Writers and Co-Directors, Chris Owens, Jason Schulz and Starlet Ciel Post...

‘Tiger Stripes’ Redefines Modern Horror at Film Maudit 2.0 – Review

Redefining modern horror, ‘Tiger Stripes‘ is East Asian filmmaking at its...

Event News Event Reviews
‘Chess The Musical’ is a Product of its Times – Review

It is clear that, ‘Chess The Musical‘, was written through the...

‘The Old Man and the Old Moon’ at Mission San Juan Capistrano – News

‘The Old Man and the Old Moon‘ at Mission San Juan...

‘Holmes & Watson’ Solve the Case at the Laguna Playhouse – Review

Jeffrey Hatcher’s ‘Holmes & Watson‘, Enthralls Audiences in a Magnificent twist...

Automotives Football MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Oscar De La Hoya Partners with El Rey for ‘Friday Night Fights’ – Interview

The Golden Boy himself chatted with us about Golden Boy Promotions...

Olympic Runner Colleen Quigley ‘On The Road to Paris’

Team USA Olympic Runner, Colleen Quigley is On The Road to...

Paralympian Swimmer Ahalya Lettenberger On The Road to Paris

Team USA Paralympian Swimmer, Ahalya Lettenberger is On The Road to...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse – Blood on the cactus pt 2?

Scone?

Fantoy Comics Presents – Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse! Blood on the cactus pt 1

It was really bloody, limbs hacked, heads torn off etc

Cultural Junk Drawer – The trial of Bluddgore the Obliterator

Wrech Cohvlid takes the stand providing testimony corroborating Cockmiester’s. He also...

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs & Sketches’ – Interview

Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs &...

Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her Career in the Arts

First Generation Assyrian-Chaldean, Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her...

Louden Swain Headlining Los Angeles Show at The Echo

Press Release – Louden Swain are headlining Los Angeles show at...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Gameplay Trailer

The first Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League gameplay trailer was revealed during...

Wonder Woman Game
Wonder Woman Game Announced By DC and WB Games

Wonder Woman game will feature the iconic hero in a 3rd...

MultiVersus
MultiVersus brings Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny, and More

MultiVersus is bringing Shaggy, Harley Quinn, Jake, Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny,...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Billy Eddy Talks His new Book ‘Our New World of Adult Bullies’ – Interview

Lawyer, Mediator and Personality Expert Bill Eddy Provides a Six-Step Strategy...

Gary Morgenstein Talks ‘A Dugout to Peace’ the Final Installment of his Trilogy

Gary Morgenstein Talks About ‘A Dugout to Peace‘ the final installment...

Chris Clews Is ‘Raised on the 80s’ and Shares Those Life Lessons

Chris Clews was ‘Raised on the 80s‘ and Shares Those Life...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand Demo

The new ‘Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand‘ is ready to ship...

Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the ‘Good Flour’

Canadian Super Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the...

Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide
Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

The Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide is now available to help...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Episode 38: Hamid Rahmanian

Join Whitney Grace as she speaks with artist Hamid Rahmanian, who...

No Preview
Toon-In Talk Episode 37: Niki Smith

Whitney Grace interviews graphic novel writer and artist Niki Smith about...

Toon-In Talk Episode 36: Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen takes some time from his busy voice acting schedule...