Southside With You:
An Intimate Look at the Beloved First Couple
(Review: Contains Some Spoilers)
By: Shanita Hicks
Overall Rating: 4/5
The story itself was brilliantly crafted. It often isn’t easy to find actors to accurately represent prominent and influential figures in such a way that it is believable. However, both Tika Sumpter (most famously known for her portrayal as Candice from TV’s Haves and the HaveNots) and the West London actor Parker Sawyers of Zero Dark Thirty fame proved to be excellent selections.
From strategic vocal inflections to perfectly mirrored mannerisms, each actor embodied and captured the essence of their famous counterparts. The only casting that I felt was a one off was the casting of Michelle’s mother in Vanessa Bell Calloway. Ms. Calloway is an incomparable actress but I felt even with as little screen that she did have, I would’ve selected someone else, say Debbie Morgan perhaps of maybe even Jenifer Lewis.
Storytelling & Storyline
A little over one week after the nationwide release of the movie Southside With You, I finally had the opportunity to catch the wonderful story of our nation’s first black family The Obamas.
Set aptly in the Southside of Chicago, a young Barack Obama had the opportunity of going out on a “date” with a then young and vibrant spirited Michelle Robinson. The term date is loosely referenced because for the majority of their time together both Michelle and Barack had different views on what constituted the realm of a first date. (Find out the book it was based from) But no one could deny as their day progressed well into the evening, that it was truly the foundation of what would develop into the legacy if Mr. and Mrs. Obama.
The written framework that was crafted to depict their first date on the silver screen was beautifully done. Each scene felt relevant and flawlessly progressed into the next moments between Michelle and Barack. I’m already partial to love stories but I’m doubly partial to the portrayal of positive black love stories. As the world has become fashioned to see over the past 8 years of Barack’s presidency, Michelle was an intelligent, well rounded and sometimes head strong but lovable woman. She admired Barack as her mentee but wanted to also maintain her importance and prestige that she worked tirelessly to achieve. These traits were ultimately what motivated his interest and perplexed Barack about her.
And with Barack, we got the opportunity to witness the infancy of his budding relationship within the community, his tenacious spirit while speaking with others and his pure desire to be a true change maker and not just a follower. They both possessed the qualities that brought out each other’s best and it was a joy to witness it unfold on screen.
And lastly, I enjoyed the intelligence that was exuded throughout the film. The inclusion of foreign speech, stories of world travels, interest in the arts and ivy league acceptance set a positive and affirming message that education and highly educated people aren’t absent within African-American culture. It also challenged that you don’t have to conform to societies standards to be successful. It’s perfectly fine to dream but in that dream we need to be daring and unabashedly determined. Southside With You made you feel that zeal and ideology.
I would without a doubt recommend this movie is supported and recommended for viewing. The story was refreshingly pure so it would be safe to bring along the family to watch as well. The only aspect that hindered me from scoring this movie a 5/5 was the fact that it wasn’t long enough for me. I truly hope that this movie is used as a foundation for other works for the continuation of their remarkable real life journey.