Making a film based on the lives of the world’s most powerful couple is a daunting task – doubly so when the President and First Lady of the United States are still in office. Director Richard Tanne took on a big task when he made Southside with You, but, pulled it off in a romantic way that would be hard to dislike.
Set in Chicago in 1989, the film follows a young Barack Obama (Parker Sawyers) and Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter), who work for the same law film. Both are very intelligent, but that doesn’t mean they’re not still finding their feet in adulthood and wondering about what the future holds, like most 20-somethings.
Michelle veers between being charmed by the smooth-talking Barack, and being annoyed by him when her invitation to a community meeting turns out to be a full day’s date, which includes dancing, a movie, drinks, and a kiss outside an ice cream parlour.
It’s impossible to shake the feeling that these are the roles Sumpter and Sawyer were destined for. While he has the advantage of being a Barack lookalike, she plays Michelle with Flotus’s conviction, warmth, intensity, and desire to help others.
As we know how the film will end, Tanne uses a lot of creative license to conjure this fictional account of the couple’s first date. The script is very dialogue heavy and laboured in places, but overall it’s easy to believe that this is what really happened. In short, it’s safe to say the director won’t have the Secret Service circling his house any time soon.