Monday, September 12, 2016

TIFF 2016: "Barry" Film Review

It isn't often when a sitting president is the subject of a biopic -- especially one that exclusively focuses on his romantic life. Now, President Barack Obama has that special distinction twice in the same year. The first being Southside With You -- an enchanting film that follows the Obamas' first date, and the second being Barry; which, recently had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Australia native, Devon Terrell (pictured above), plays the would-be President in his Columbia University years. To fit in more, he's given the nickname, Barry, but the irony is, he doesn't quite fit in anywhere -- not in his White or Black circles.

In the film, Barry prefers spending much of his free time partying, playing basketball and meeting girls. There's nothing ostensibly special about this young man, and that is what makes Barry a special film. Barry is just like any other young person trying to discover their own identity. He's far from perfect. He makes mistakes, disappoints people and has insecurities. The fact that we know that he inevitably goes on to be the 47th President of the United States makes his story all the more compelling.

Despite its uneven pacing, Barry is a great examination of Obama's early years, and although, Terrell does not look like the real Barack, his performance is solid, and wisely stays away from parody.

Indeed, Southside with You and Barry would make an interesting double feature at the White House for the First Family, but words of advice to the President: end the evening with Southside with You.

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