Southside-with-You

RosieMeter Score: 66% Rose Budrose-bud-40x40

Runtime: 1 hours, 24 mins.

No extra scenes after the credits

Review:

This was a surprisingly smart and very sweet film about the beginning of a romantic partnership that would change the world. Based on the first date between Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson, writer/director Richard Tanne stays surprisingly close to the very public true events: a visit to the Chicago Art Institute, dinner, going to see Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, running into a co-worker from the prestigious law firm where Michelle served as Barack’s advisor, to eating ice cream and sharing a first kiss.

While the movie explores racial boundaries and expectations, there is nothing overtly political about the message. Tanner wisely focuses on the origins of the special connection neither Barack nor Michelle could deny, even though she tried.

Actress Tika Sumpter does a great job expressing the difficulties of being a black woman at a mostly white law firm and the need to ignore Barack’s charm if she wants to be taken seriously. She tests Barack on their date by telling him “This is NOT a date,” to find out how he handles a challenge. Or perhaps, to see if he can give up an ounce of control. Or to slow things down enough to determine what his real intensions are. Is he just a “smooth talker” or a man with integrity? Lucky for her, and us, he was the latter. And then some.

If you don’t feel a kinship for the first family, you probably won’t like the film, but it excels at highlighting the seeds and potential of two amazingly strong Americans and how they came together and shook up the status quo.

That’s what we here at Rosie Movie Ratings are all about.

Score breakdown:

A female protagonist: 15 pts.

Tells the story of a young Michelle Obama: 15 pts.

The film has two female executive producers Tracey Bing and Carrie Holt de Lama, and Tika Sumpter, who was a producer in addition to starring in the film: 6 pts.

Quality of filmmaking: 20 pts.

Does not pass the Bechdel/Wallace Test: 0 pts.

Wildcard: We’re adding additional points because the film honors an African-American female public figure who’s a fantastic role model for young women: 10 pts. 

RosieMeter: 66 pts.

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About Shanee Edwards

Shanee Edwards is a film critic, entertainment journalist and screenwriter.

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