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Review: Southside with You

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They’re everyone’s favourite power couple, but long before Barack Obama took the White House – indeed before the Oval Office was even a notion in his mind – he was just another young law graduate, living in the Southside of Chicago, starting out a new career and doing his darnedest to woo that cute/smart/ambitious girl from the office. The girl in this case is one Michelle Robinson, now known as Michelle Obama, and it is these efforts of Barack’s that are the focus of new feature film Southside with You.

Taking place entirely over the course of just one day, the film chronicles the now-historic first date, including the future President’s late arrival (true story). The only black woman at a Chicago law firm, attorney Michelle (Tika Sumpter) is Barack’s (Parker Sawyer) associate and is under the impression this is an entirely professional outing to a community meeting. She is reluctant, he is eager. He thinks it’s a date, she certainly does not. Obama not-so-subtly winds in a series of charming cultural activities throughout the day, in an attempt to convince her otherwise. Well played, sir, well played.

Along the way the couple stops by a black art exhibition, partake in an impromptu dance session with a bongo drum band in the park, attend a community event at which Barack gives the kind of inspiring talk for which he has since become renowned, do some soul-searching in a smoky bar, go to the cinema and share an ice cream cone. Is this the best first date of all time? Answer: pretty much, yes.

Now anyone going in to see this film knows how it ultimately ends – we know the boy gets the girl, so why bother? I think politics aside, most of us can admit a soft spot for these two to some degree (or a large degree if you’re anything like me), so it’s easy to see why a film about how Potus wooed Flotus might float our boat.

The two leads are very well cast; there are moments when actor Parker Sawyers looks so uncannily like Obama that I had to do a double take. Now look, there’s no denying this film has some dialogue and moments so cheesy they may as well come served on a cracker, but you just can’t help but love it anyway. Don’t go in expecting a cinematic masterpiece, but this is an Obama love story for goodness sake! That sentence will either entirely put you off or draw you in; if you’re the latter, you’ll certainly find this worth the watch.

3-out-of-5

Southside With You is in cinemas on 30th September 2016.

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