“Southside With You” is written and directed by Richard Tanne and stars Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers. The movie is about the first date of Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson back in the summer of 1989.
This film interested me because, for one, I knew nothing of this first date between the future 44th president and his wife, but also because I couldn’t imagine how a whole movie could be made about a single date. Still, I was hopeful that something great could come out of this premise.
As this is a movie almost solely about two people, it’s a relief that both leads are excellent in the film, while also being incredibly accurate to the well-known people they play. Even more than that, the chemistry between them both is fantastic, as they each go back and forth with smart and witty dialogue that almost all works.
Tika Sumpter as Michelle Robinson does great work here, giving the eventual first lady the right amount of intelligence and fight that we have seen from her to this day. Sumpter’s constant attitude about the date as a whole is very well done and believable, and she certainly does justice to Michelle Obama in this film.
While Sumpter was excellent, I found Parker Sawyers’ performance as Barack Obama even better. Sawyers nails everything about Obama, from his incredible speaking ability to just his overall nature as a person, Sawyers does it very well. Sawyers is also pretty good at romance, and I found it very enjoyable to watch him continually attempt to impress Sumpter, especially because we know how the film will end up going in the long run.
The fact that this is Barack and Michelle Obama we are watching creates some dramatic irony that actually works to the film’s benefit. Knowing the outcome can ruin movies a lot of the time, but in this film, it made a lot of their dialogue more poignant and also made the times that Barack and Michelle click very exciting to watch.
This film lives on its dialogue, and for the most part, it is very well done. Richard Tanne does a great job with the script here, as a film with such little going on could have gotten boring very easily. Tanne also was able to express both Barack and Michelle’s personalities vibrantly; something that is very impressive, seeing as the movie only took place during one day.
While I said it mostly works, I couldn’t help but get slightly bored at the fact that so little actually happens throughout the film. Most of the dialogue works to make this film engaging, but even with a slim 84-minute runtime, there were a few points where the movie felt like it was dragging.
Along with this, I like that the movie is unique in the fact that it is very down to Earth and easy going, but it also felt a bit unnecessary. While I will certainly take a new idea instead of a remake, especially after a summer like this one, I found myself losing interesting and questioning the point of the movie in a few scenes.
Southside With You is a well-acted and well-written film that is incredibly simple in its delivery. This is, simply, two people going on their first date, and it does that to the best of its ability. The film is short, sweet, and to the point, and while it’s not a game-changer of a movie, it wasn’t meant to be, and I can respect that.
What did you think of Southside With You? Comment below with what you thought.