Barack Obama was not only the 44th president of the United States, he was the country’s first black president and for many, a symbol of hope. Many of us were intrigued by Barack and took to books and movies to learn more about him. Two films did a good job of covering Barack Obama in completely different ways.
First, let’s start with Barry.
Barry is a Netflix film released in 2016 and stars Devon Terrell as Barack Obama (Barry). The film tells the story of Barack in his early years, long before his presidency. It begins with the young college student relocating to Columbia University in New York from Hawaii and trying to make it through the college experience as one of the few African American students on campus. The film takes us through Barry’s experiences as an average 20-something-year-old kid in the 80’s. We go through his pre-Michelle dating life, his identity issues being bi-racial, we watch him succeed, fail and sometimes fail again.
Critics seemed to like the film as well. It received an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for an NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture in 2017.
Southside With You was the perfect follow-up to Barry. The 2016 film doesn’t quite pick up where Barry leaves off, but for it not to be a sequel, it fits perfectly. The film is set in the summer of 1989 and stars Parker Sawyers as Barack Obama and Tika Sumpter as Michelle Robinson. The plot is based on Barack and Michelle’s very first date. Barack, a young law firm associate and philanthropist, tries his best to woo Michelle, a lawyer. Obviously, we all know how their relationship turned out but it was great to see the humbling beginnings of these two very different individuals.
Southside With You received rave reviews across the board. It was a smash hit at the Sundance Film Festival, received a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and was given a 4/4 rating by Roger Ebert.
Overall, if you’re looking for movies about Barack Obama that are not documentary style, these are the first and only ones available. Though we’d like to have more, these two films do a beautiful job of letting us into the life of a young, future President.