Southside With You Blu-ray Review
“Southside With You” is a charmer.
Set on a hot south Chicago day in 1989, the biographical “Southside With You” explores Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson’s first date that didn’t actually start out as a date. The two law firm co-workers had planned to meet up to attend a meeting at a community center, but Barack actually wanted to spend the day with Michelle. Michelle, on the other hand, is not initially interested in a date and finds the prospect of dating a co-worker to be unprofessional. In the lead up to the meeting (and after it), the two slowly but surely get to know one another as they talk about art, family, childhood, religion, race, work, pie, ice cream, and “Do The Right Thing” all while experiencing the sights and sounds of Chicago. Michelle and Barack get to know one another while we (the audience) see the beginnings of a historic relationship and a future President.
Seeing a movie about the President and First Lady while they are still in office seems a bit premature at this stage, but writer/director Richard Tanne manages to make it work. Instead of doing an all encompassing biopic, Tanne takes relaxed, almost real-time “Before Sunrise” esque approach to the couple’s first “date” back in the 80’s. Now, I have no idea how much of this script is based on truth and or if there was this much conflict between the two, but the fact that the film looks and feels convincing means it was doing it’s job.
The real key to the film’s success, however, are the superb performances by Parker Sawyers (Barack) and Tika Sumpter (Michelle). If you don’t buy their performances and on screen chemistry here the movie wouldn’t work period. The two actors never do caricatures or imitations which is the way it should be. That’s not to say they don’t have similar voice inflections and mannerisms to Barack and Michelle Obama because they do, but they’re all very subtle and are never distracting. They’re believable.
Presentation: 2.35:1 1080p. How does it look? The film is a bit grainy in spots, but overall it’s a bright crisp transfer.
Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? Aside from the music, this is largely a dialogue driven film so the track doesn’t have a ton to do. Still, the DTS track most certainly does the job.
* Digital copy.
* Lionsgate trailers and a “Southside With You” trailer.
* Artwork and animations for 6 moments/scenes.
* A passionate and informative commentary by writer/director Richard Tanne.
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