After so many momentous years in spotlights owned and operated by other people, it’s no wonder Michelle Obama wanted to regain control of her life, her horizons, her image and the “former First Lady” phase of her story.

Running 89 minutes, director Nadia Hallgren’s smoothly delivers a primer on the author’s upbringing in Chicago’s South Shore neighbourhood; her life and career pre-Barack Obama; and before her deep, disquieting dive into the glare and scrutiny of national politics.

Her book is about how she kept her hands on the steering wheel of her life, often amid the vitriol of a nation hellbent on division and terrified of history in the making. It was a “swerve,” to use a word that comes up often in the memoir, Michelle Obama never really wanted.

The Netflix project is comprised largely of live footage from Obama’s 34-city book tour. There are a few bookstore appearances, and many visits with some wonderful, clear eyed students at schools around the country, including Obama’s alma mater, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in Chicago.

Becoming nonetheless feels carefully calibrated to a fault. The visual strategy and editing rhythms feel part of a promotional effort, not an inquiry. Set your expectations accordingly, and you’ll still get a lot out of Becoming. At its most unguarded-seeming moments, the film does offer glimpses of Obama’s extraordinary ability to connect with young people, old people – people, period.

The onstage highlights speak to her honest, self-searching qualities: On the topic of relationship difficulties and unmet expectations with her husband, she acknowledges she “took Barack to marital counseling so that they’d fix him.” How two supremely contrasting personalities negotiate their lives together is a lesson for the masses, even if you’ve never lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. There’s no way to experience Becoming apolitically, not now.

You don’t have to consider it first-rate documentary film making of any sort to feel something watching it. At one point, to the delight of thousands in one of the arena tour stops, Obama recalls the sleepover her daughters had with friends the night before the new first family was moving in. “The Trumps are coming!” she says. Yes, they were. And here we are.

Source : Gulf Times

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