‘Southside With You’ winningly revisits the Obamas’ first date

‘Southside With You’
Parker Sawyers as Barack Obama and Tika Sumpter as Michelle Robinson in the movie “Southside With You.”
(Miramax / Roadside Attractions)
Film Critic

The final year of Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House brought with it two remarkably sensitive cinematic portraits of the president as a young man: Vikram Gandhi’s “Barry,” which opens this week in theaters and on Netflix, and Richard Tanne’s “Southside With You,” newly out on DVD.

Inspired by Richard Linklater’s walking-and-talking “Before” trilogy, “Southside With You” follows Obama and his future wife, Michelle Robinson, on their first date in Chicago in the summer of 1989. Featuring understatedly superb performances by Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter, the film is a feast of warm, vivid and unexpectedly pointed conversation, overflowing with ideas about African American progress and the tricky balance of idealism and compromise. All in all, there are far worse ways to say goodbye.

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