Southside With You - First Date
| Part way through Southside With You I began to realize just how much I was falling in love with Barack and Michelle Obama. This telling of their first date, may be framed like a romantic comedy, but is different in the way it focuses on two people who are smart, passionate about justice, and share thoughts on culture, art, literature. This is the kind of date I love. This speaks to people like me whose idea of a great date involves a social justice discussion.
Director Richard Tanne colours his quiet directorial debut with lush colours, showing the loveliness of the Southside of Chicago, a place often not painted in that light. He places his romantic subjects in a place of pain and beauty, providing the background of the people he is narrating. This is about reminding us that these two people are people, with dreams, faults, passions. It is their very humanness, their finding of each other, which is our insight into seeing them as something more than President and First Lady. Seeing them as people like us,
Embedded in this day is the people they long to become as well as the backgrounds of where they came from. But also there is the microcosm of what they have achieved. Much of the film focuses on the barriers Michelle has faced as a black woman in her career.
Also important is the way Tanne grounds his story in a specific time and place. Whether it's Miss You Much or Do The Right Thing, Tanne gives us all a reference. This first president of my generation, and a woman who shares my passions and beliefs, are the kind of people that I understand. I watch them connect in a way that reminds me of how I connect with other minds who share my passions. For me, seeing Southside With You was seeing something I related to, a meeting of minds, the kind that's sexy, romantic, and exciting.
I may not agree with everything that happened during Obama`s presidency, but I did see something that speaks to me.