It's a love story about Barrack and Michelle Obama.
The NY Times critic, Manohla Dargis suggests it's hagiography.
It’s no surprise that Mr. Obama is a better writer than Mr. Tanne and has a stronger sense of drama. But it’s too bad that while Mr. Obama’s story about his date has tension, a moral and politics, Mr. Tanne’s has plaster saints. Abraham Lincoln was long dead when John Ford polished the presidential halo in the 1939 film “Young Mr. Lincoln.” Mr. Obama hasn’t even left office, but the cinematic hagiography has begun.
Michael Arceneaux in Complex writes that the mythologizing has begun.
It is somewhat baffling, but understandable to a degree. Barack Obama is this country’s first Black president. His wife, Michelle Obama, is revered by communities of all backgrounds, but even more strongly in the Black community (and rightly so). Even so, I was a bit weary about seeing their lives depicted in film so soon much less as a romantic comedy. Weary because it still feels so soon to be looking back at history as it continues to take place. Curious how people who haven’t even left the White House to start their post-White House lives are already being mythologized.
As of now, Obama is on course to leave his historic run as president with favorables that mirror former President Ronald Reagan, only he and Michelle Obama are starting to have the sort of mystique that registers as kind of like a Black Camelot. The political legacy of Obama will be rightly judged as time passes—notably with how Black people truly fared under his watch. Nonetheless, it is worth highlighting what the fascination about their romance and journey to the White House means to people. All types of people at that.
Not surprising, Armond White of The National Review finds it less endearing.
But it’s Southside with You that feels unfinished. Detached from the truth of African-American experience, its dishonest love story lacks the poignancy of personalities found in the special insight of true black movie romances like Cicely Tyson and Paul Winfield in Sounder, Don Cheadle and Emayatzy Corinealdi in Miles Ahead, or Jamie Foxx and Gabrielle Union’s extraordinary discussion of piercing one’s skin in Daniel Taplitz’s Breakin’ All the Rules. Unlike those films, Southside with You is a projection of deracinated black characters, manipulated to support race- and class-based delusions by which the mainstream media and the political elite continue to misunderstand the black condition. Southside with You glorifies political totems who all but walk on water.
Many critics are far less ambivalent than Dargis and Arceneaux; to the point where it's hard to imagine they saw the same movie as these other critics:
James Brody in The New Yorker wrote:
The climactic sequence, at a screening of “Do the Right Thing,” is a small masterpiece of comic psychology. This tender, intimate drama has the grand resonance of a historical epic.
Still, "Southside With You" has scored 93% at Rotten Tomatoes, based on reviews by critics. Interestingly enough the audience score is much lower at 49%, but it's early and I don't know if it's possible (I imagine it is) for people who haven't seen it, but who dislike Obama to visit the site and attempt to lower the rating.
I'm, demonstrably, not a fan of Obama, but as far as I can tell there isn't anything not worthy of respect and even admiration about his marriage and his family life. As presidents go he seems to be a fantastic husband and father.
However, regardless of who the characters in a movie like this might be, any love story is almost never on my Must See
list. Just not my cup of tea, and I've not read any review that credibly suggests this film is much more than that.
I guess if you are a big fan of love stories and really like the Obamas you will want to see their particular love story, but from what I can see there doesn't seem to be anything about this movie that tells us something we don't already know or have not already been told about the Obamas.
Plus, regardless of the ideology involved I can't abide films that glorify or sugarcoat politicians.
If you have seen it or do see it, please let us know what you think.