Leia Gluckman staff writer
“Becoming” opens with a relaxed mood following Michelle Obama, former first lady, as she gets into the back seat of her chauffeured black car and starts her day. She pulls out her phone and begins playing a song from her “eclectic” library of music. In this simple moment, Obama comes across as personable, making the entire documentary feel like a big, heartfelt and warm welcome into her life.
As “A God Like You” by Kirk Franklin blasts from her phone speakers, an energizing and powerful photo montage of Obama throughout her years campaigning for her husband and throughout her time as first lady flashes across the screen like a photo album or picture frames strung across the entryway and halls of her house.
The wonderful opening montage sets the stage for a deep, revealing and empowering documentary of Obama’s life leading to this point in time. Beyond the words that Obama shares throughout the film, her tone is warm and inviting.
As Obama travels across the United States giving motivational speeches, viewers are given the opportunity to learn and understand the authenticity of Obama — she truly lives all that she preaches.
Learning that someone so wholeheartedly admired across the globe is as truly good and generous as she appears in interviews is a relieving and reassuring experience.
Engaging with students of all different races and ethnicities, Obama’s uplifting tone and nature encourages those on and off screen to pursue their purpose and their goals with resilience.
Viewers also get to see Obama’s sassier side as she jokingly vents about her mother during an interview.
“My mother liked Craig more than me,” Obama said. “I was like, ‘Ma. Come on, lady. I am the first lady. What more do I have to do?”
These moments where Obama discusses her family life with the camera and at her dinner table are truly unique when it comes to the documentaries of a politician’s life. The unguarded and emotional footage of Obama is what makes everything relatable, enjoyable and humorous.
What makes this unique from other politician-based documentaries is that the camera acts like a friend. When Obama speaks to the lens it doesn’t feel scripted, it feels familiar. Viewers are given the opportunity to sympathize with Obama and gain insight on some lasting punches that Obama felt, like her high school guidance counselor’s lack of faith in her. She told Obama that she wouldn’t be able to get into Princeton and that Obama was aiming too high.
“I’m still a little salty about that,” Obama joked in another interview.
There is also a large, insightful, focus on how Obama took control of her own happiness and kept sight of her aspirations while married to an “opinionated” and ambitious man which are revealing and have a heart-tugging impact.
Obama’s sense of humor, her sassiness, her character, her love of family and her desire to help others all come to light through this empowering documentary.
The documentary is entertaining, personal and impactful because it is so wholly authentic. Obama doesn’t hold back, she doesn’t grow defensive and she owns her story. That’s what makes the documentary so engaging and wonderful.
Viewers hear Obama interact with people one on one, as she takes the time to listen and uplift each individual. Her charismatic nature makes every interaction fascinating to watch on-screen.
“It’s like an emotional, sociological dance with people,” Obama said in the documentary. “It’s important to make sure I take every person as they come up […] look them in the eye, take in the story.”
Obama’s documentary is relevant now more than ever because it preaches peace, community, togetherness and opportunity for change.
Highlights rates the documentary a 5/5.