|Southside With You film poster.|
Honest charm and affectionate promise lace between superb dialogue and raw acting as Barack and Michelle discuss racism, feminism politics, activism, and the best of Stevie Wonder.
|Michelle (Tika Sumpter) and Barack (Parker Sawyers) share their dreams.|
And their willful passionate natures is a well-rendered treat.
At a visit to the art museum, the-not-yet-a-couple find themselves enthralled in urbanism meets Modigliani styled artworks of Ernie Barnes-- elongated black figures, moving, modestly dressed bodies, and bright, vivid colors. These two prominent entities, walking through genre paintings and sculptures of African Diaspora, discussing and analyzing what they see is one of the definite highlights. Their talks are real, honest.
Then it goes downhill with misconceptions and assumptions.
But there's nothing humble pie and chocolate ice cream can't handle.
|Barack (Parker Sawyers) and Michelle (Tika Sumpter) against the world.|
Newcomer Parker Sawyers was a befitting choice as the young, chain-smoking president-to-be. Utterly charming, silkily smooth, and with Barack's authoritative voice to match, Sawyers was the definite answer to a challenging casting call. First of all, he mesmerizes as a powerful, compassionate orator (one of Barack's finest talents), secondly, shines as a smitten man instilled in the art of wooing (but not in a way that is creepy or caveman), and lastly, flawed humanism of Barack's shortcomings.
|Barack takes Michelle to see Spike Lee's riveting Do The Right Thing. The direction is awkward, almost clumsy way of getting both Lee's famous work and reactions of the future President and First Lady in cinematic frames.|
Although Southside With You isn't a flawless masterpiece, it is a nice, irresistible treat to nibble on. Whereas most black films feature woman being named ugly names under the sun by cruel, ignorant men or women desperately pandering to masculine appeal, Richard Tanne's first directional/screenplay writing effort dismantles stereotypes and pigeonholes. Barack is a complete gentleman, very attentive, respectful, and protective of Michelle. He is a chivalrous, smart man in early throes of awe. In the meantime, Michelle, guarded, resilient, and tough, slowly starts to fall under the crackling spell of a future commander-in-chief, without losing her dignity and grace. Her dark skinned black beauty, not waxed on poetically, is something witnessed in the way she articulates a word, casts a glance, shifts her body. And viewers are left astounded by Barack's fascinating testimony.
Southside With You is a film that will stay in heart and mind, retain a certain kind of rustic spirit, that lingers long after John Legend's song and Ernie Barnes paintings disappear from the screen.