Southside With You (2016)
“Southside With You” stars Parker Sawyers, Tika Sumpter, Vanessa Bell Calloway, and Phillip Edward Van Lear. Released on August 26, 2016, the film is about a young associate who tries to win the heart of a young lawyer.
The film features the directorial debut of Richard Tanne, known for writing and producing Mischief Night and Worst Friends. I would’ve gotten a chance to see this film last month, but my mom wanted to see it as well, so we waited at the right moment to see it together...which is today. I haven’t really gotten into the romance genre that much because they keep reminding me that I am still single. With a film like this, I guess now would be a good time to start. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2016 to positive reviews from critics. Now that it has been released in the United States, does this film fully capture that “first date” feeling that a lot of people experience? Let’s find out.
There’s not much to tell about the film’s story. It basically focuses on the “first date” between Barack Obama (Sawyers) and Michelle Robinson (Sumpter) in 1989 Chicago. So, it’s literally a “date” movie. (Sorry, bad pun) The story is very simplistic and sweet, but for those who wanted to see more than just these characters hanging out together during the course of one day, they might feel a bit disappointed. It starts and ends the same way as their day together started and ended. I thought that if they would have had a proper introduction to the main characters before the actual plot kicks in, I would’ve liked it a bit more. Other than that, the story is fine as a date movie. It’s just that their introductions could’ve been more fleshed out. Sawyers and Sumpter were great together as Barack and Michelle. They really reflect those characters marvelously, especially Sawyers. He’s almost identical to the real Obama in terms of his facial expressions and his mannerisms. There were a couple of scenes that kind of slowed the movie down for me, but the screenplay and its running time (84 minutes long) were interesting enough to compensate. The dialogue between Barack and Michelle works because they’re expressing their personalities with words instead of actions. Keep in mind that this is before they got married and moved on up to the White House. I would say this is a pretty solid deal because this film showcases who these people were as regular human beings before they became the President and First Lady that we know and love. For Tanne’s first time as a director, he did a pretty decent job at exploring that. Would I like to see more than just their “date”? Yes, but if his goal was to create a basic love story that’s romantic and easy to follow, then he got the job done.
Mom: I went into the movie with no idea of what to expect. I was hoping to get a glimpse of our President and First Lady as just regular people and that is what I got. The movie is simple and sweet. About two people feeling their way through a day that may or may not have been a date. It shows the awkwardness that people getting to know each other feel and the ways to get through those conversations. It showed two people who clearly care about the people around them and who want to make a difference.
Overall, “Southside With You” is the sweetest date movie of 2016, thanks to its main performances, its suitable screenplay, and Tanne’s direction. Other than the fact that the story could’ve been fleshed out more than just them going on a date together, along with a couple of slow moments, the film properly shows these characters as human beings rather than celebrities. If you’re in a mood for something heartwarming and basic or you’re just a fan of date movies, then this one is to your liking.
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