Southside With You is a unique film in the sense that it’s both a very human romantic drama that also speaks to the future of its characters. The film begins as an ’80s style romantic comedy in he vein of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or When Harry Met Sally, developing the Obamas as distinctive leads outside of their obvious personas. However, the film successfully transitions into a establishment of ideals that guide the future President and First Lady by drawing from the experiences that shaped their lives, both personally and professionally.
Eager to act on a burning crush on his advisor at a law firm, Barack Obama (Parker Sawyers) invites Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter) to a community event in which he’s a featured guest. But Barack’s got more on his mind, taking Michelle on an exciting journey across Southside Chicago, provoking their relationship. It’s a simple concept, relishing in a quick banter and philosophical debate that as fascinating as it is enjoyable to watch.
Sawyers and Sumpter are bot brilliant here, capturing the mannerisms of the Obamas, while still fitting the roles of romantic leads. Would Southside With You work if it was just about a random couple in 1989 Chicago? Absolutely, there’s more than enough charisma and wit to sustain an original feature. But it’s the fact that the film takes Michelle and Barack Obama, and puts them through such a human experiences, that is most significant, and all the more impressive. Grade: -A