Southside with You Review – Romantic, Charming, An Epic Date Night Film

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Southside with You, from Roadside Attractions, Miramax and IM Global, presents the epic first date of a future president with his future first lady and the day that would come to symbolize his dedication and tenacity for public service.

Directed and written by Richard Tanne, Southside with You stars Parker Sawyers as Barack Obama and Tike Sumpter as Michelle Robinson, with Vanessa Bell Calloway as Marian Robinson and Phil Ed Van Lear as Frasier Robinson.

Southside with You begins in the South Side home of Michelle Robinson, a second year law firm associate with a very tony Chicago law firm on the inside of The Loop. Her parents, Marian and Frasier, are watching with peaked interest as she continues to prepare for what she insists is not a date.

As she explains to her parents, and to herself, that while this may look like a date to everyone else, this is, she emphatically and definitively states "not a date." And one can understand. Michelle is a successful Chicago lawyer, an ivy league graduate; Harvard law; a summer associate, no matter how interesting and not even from Harvard, is not going to cut it, not with the effort she put into gaining the respect and moving, at least mentally, to a place where she can finally have financial freedom.

Sitting down with her parents, both joked about the effort and extra touches she added for the "non-date."

The camera pans to the home of a young Barack, who was on the phone with his grandmother, also talking about the afternoon, although in slightly different more hopeful terms. Not that she was the one, and honestly as she coaxed information out of him, he seemed to have dated most of the women at the law firm that he wanted, and the more difficult like Michelle needed strategy.

When Barack does arrive to pick her up, it is evident as the look passes over her face, when she sits in the car. No effort, the car is dirty, the floorboard rusted completely through, the seat belt doesn't work and he hadn't even considered emptying the ashtray of the remnants of the nasty smoking habit.

Summed up in fifteen seconds this man was not, if she had ever had a fleeting thought, for her.

Michelle under the impression that the afternoon was beginning with a community meeting something she had hoped to continue once she reached some level of success and time, commitments, pressure and the tremendous amount of legal work, partner assistance, briefs and research, a second year would have to maintain in order to simply make a passable grade.

With a firm commitment at nearly eighty hours a week, adding pro bono community outreach programs just wasn't possible. That didn't stop the pull, the belief in something greater, the desire to give back.

So heading off to see Barack's neighborhood coalition was a welcome respite. As the two arrived, Michelle direct, and in control, asked where the community outreach program?

The all-day, non-date, hang out, okay possibly date, ran the range of topics, background, lives, hopes, aspirations, and as the circle narrowed the topics were more revealing personal feelings, left over dysfunctions or perceived lack from adolescence which had never actually received the full examination one would expect knowing the future.

And then the date got tougher: the color question. For African Americans this seems to be a question that is commonly asked, as I sat one evening in a local coffee shop and overheard a dark skinned African female asked her first date the exact question.

In Southside with You, Michelle poses the color question to which Barack, not future president at the time explained his past, his white past. It was surprising, for me.

I enjoyed Southside with You. The Southside of Chicago seems to be making headlines more as frequently in films and in this film the infiltration of gang violence was not as prevalent or so it seemed.

Having the opportunity to attend the media day, the filmmakers and Parker Sawyer who plays Barack and Tika Sumpter who plays Michelle discussed some of the aspects of becoming the first couple. At the time, without even the public service direction defined the two were two well educated people one of which wanted the other to known how much he thought of her.

My interview with Southside with You star Vanessa Bell Calloway who portrays Marian RobinsonMichelle's mother, will follow.

For all that Barack was and in Michelle's eyes lacked on that first epic date, by the end of the night he was thoughtful, kind and wanted her to remember him for remembering her.

Southside with You is an epic date film. Wooing the one you want as one tapped danced the usual topics, pitfalls, red flag responses and challenges and somehow managed to score big points over one small remembrance.

The film was shot entirely on the South Side and the filmmakers and cast had nothing but praise for the locals who welcomed the talent warmly, so much so that the entire cast made a point to mention everyone who showed up and hung out during the filming.

Southside with You opens Friday August 26, 2016.

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