By: Briana Alexander
On a hot summer day in Chicago 1989, as the Janet Jackson hit ‘Miss You Much’ fills the air, future president Barack Obama ventures to pick up aspiring lawyer Michelle Robinson, for what will be known as their first date and the beginning to a promising future. Amidst current political unrest and attention, Southside with You is a refreshing outlook on the lives of two political figures, depicting them just as any other loving couple and not as the celebrities they have become.
With the many different opinions on President Obama’s actions in the past 8 years, writer/director, Richard Tanne, took on a big task choosing to tell their love st
ory. But Tanne successfully approached retelling the couple’s first date with a different mindset, one that did not involve the origin of Obama’s policies and laws but the developing story of love and the search for equality in the 1989 Chicago community.
Although the movie itself was only a recount of that single day in history, Southside With You helps to remind viewers that the biggest figures today were at some point and still are normal people. While embodying the personalities of the Obama’s that people have come to know, actors Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter also portrayed a young couple still trying to figure out their lives, questioning things such as religion and where they stand in this world based off race and gender.
Intriguing the audience, Tanne emphasizes the normality of the characters, displaying this through the Obama’s conversations about 80s sitcoms, Stevie Wonders latest album, and even the impact of an absent father on Barack’s life and determined parents on Michelle’s.
Southside with You is a clear representation of the struggles and the questions that just one day as an adult can bring. In a scene during the movie Barack and Michelle question each other on their belief in God, their answers display a couple who is still trying to figure out what to believe. In our Christian community it is important to note that at some point in life there will come many questions regarding our place in society, as well as what we truly believe in spiritually.
The Obama’s first date story sheds light on the questions and the rough around the edges start that any relationship can entail, but their beginning is a testament to how God helps to strengthen bonds that may result in the lengthy and beautiful relationship that the Obamas have maintained. The movie was a good mix of humor, romance, and empowerment, leaving me inspired and wanting more. No matter what political party or preference Southside with You is simply a love story, with hints to the societal struggles in 1989 Chicago, but mainly focused on growth, happiness, love, and the ability to strive for a brighter future.