Sweet Everythings: Our Review of ‘Southside with You’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - August 26, 2016
Sweet Everythings: Our Review of ‘Southside with You’

The prevailing thought that comes to mind while watching the beautiful and sweet Southside With You is that all romance films should be like this.

Not the part about how it follows the first date of an American President and First Lady, no – that’s probably hard to recreate with other figures. Instead, it’s the part where there is respect, curiosity, thoughtful conversation, and equal opportunity between two hopeful, strong, independent people. Charmed and at times stirring, sure we may know how things ends up (but we really do for all films about dating), but this story across one day in the Chicago summer of 1989 is brilliant in depicting two smart, optimistic, well-adjusted young adults talk love, duty, oppression, and hope.

Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers are Michelle Robinson and Barack Obama, idealistic and strong, young and curious. Both are impressive in their respective turns, uncanny in their resemblances and their mannerisms. When Barack stands up to give a speech to his friends, colleagues, and neighbours, it’s rousing.

Southside With You - Tika Sumpter, Patrick Sawyers

However, it’s not about wooing and charming; Southside With You teases the greatness to be achieved by both these powerful, influential figures, showing their passion, intellect, and open-mindedness to great effect. A trip to the art gallery, a lunch and walk in the park, and a community organizing meeting reveals character and conscience between these two souls navigating some new ground.

This tender tale begins with each primping and preparing: he’s a little more carefree, and predictably late while she is taking time to look good and feel comfortable – for herself, not him, she asserts. They meet for what he thinks is a date, and she presumes is a more professional encounter – they work together after all.

Michelle is strong, observant, and working through the world that she knows exists, not necessarily the one she wants to exist. She acknowledges the extra work ahead being both black and a woman while being part of a mostly white male law firm. Barack, meanwhile, is more relaxed, maybe a little too much. He smokes regularly, has a car that’s missing a few pieces, and true to form, possesses boundless hope and staggering confidence.

Southside With You

That hope isn’t just for those in need in his hurting communities. He has hope for him and Michelle, that they can overcome obstacles together and that the forces that may question a potential relationships aren’t as strong, and surely aren’t as important, as the reasons to spend time together.

We may know what happens to them some twenty years later, but this singular day is magical for a number of reasons, none of which themselves are particularly serendipitous or charmed. Southside With You becomes a winning story of two beautiful minds coming together, strong individuals staying strong while moving closer together, and challenging each other to do better, to be better. Other romances could learn; the ones on film and the ones in real life.

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Anthony is a lover of a good story in any form, on any subject. Tirelessly navigating filmdom, he is equal parts an unbridled idealist and stubborn curmudgeon, trying to strike a balance between head and heart when it comes to pop culture. He pens stories about television, music, the environment, lifestyles, and all things noteworthy and peculiar.