I read somewhere recently that Barack Obama was the first American president, at least to my generation, that seemed like a real person. He didn't seem like another manufactured bullshit machine. There's a genuine humanity behind him, and I do think his tenure as President of the United States was the last time this nation was truly in good hands. It hasn't felt the same since. Anyway, it was only a matter of time before America's first black president's story became a movie, and in 2016 we got two. There was Southside with You, which told the story of Barack and Michelle's first date, and then there was Barry, which showed us Barack's college years when he was struggling with his racial identity as a mixed race man. I gotta say, neither of these are the movie I wanted to see about Barack Obama. I want the young idealistic senator who comes out of nowhere to swipe the nomination away from Hilary Clinton and become the Democratic front runner. Where's that movie?
Devon Terrell does a fine job as Barry, a young student who doesn't feel accepted by either the white or black community in New York City, 1981. Barry's got a tough relationship with his father, who walked out on him and his mother when he was young. Ever since, Barry's been reluctant to reach out, a decision that would haunt him later. When he starts dating Charlotte (Taylor-Joy), he starts feeling eyes on him for dating a white woman. Of course, these eyes may just be his insecurities, and the movie lets you make that decision for yourself. Everyone performs admirably, but the story is really dull apart from a few forced moments of racially-charged drama. Overall, there's very little to make out of Barack Obama's college years.
Barry probably would've worked better as a documentary, or maybe part one of a larger series of Obama's life story. Because let's face it. Obama was the first black president of an unapologetically racist country. He's gonna have a very interesting story. This was just a bizarre angle to take that I doubt anyone really wanted to see.