Have you ever had the experience of being away from a dear friend, for years perhaps, and not realizing how very much you missed her until you’re finally reunited?
That pretty much sums up my experience watching the excellent new 90 minute Netflix documentary, Becoming. The film chronicles Michelle Obama’s sold-out national book tour for her best selling memoir of the same name. As the former first lady’s 2020 speaking tour has been postponed due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Netflix doc is unfortunately, the closest we’ll get to Obama for awhile.
If you’ve not read Becoming, this documentary will probably convince you to take the plunge. Trust me: you’ll feel better after reading it — and you just may finally get started on that nagging project that you’ve kept on the back burner.
Our 44th president’s better and smarter half is as deft verbally as she is with the written word, a gift of which documentary viewers are reminded with this film, directed by Nadia Hallgren.
That “better and smarter” reference wasn’t a slam on Barack. Far from it. But like Hilary Clinton before her, Michelle Obama is the star of her family.
Speaking of the Obama brood, we hear (of course) from Michelle’s hubby in the new documentary, but the real shocker is, toward the end of the film, the comments from Sasha and Malia about their immensely popular mom. While it may seem as if 2008 was just yesterday, looking at and listening to those two accomplished, poised, and beautiful young ladies, 12 years after their dad’s inauguration and over three years after they left, gave me pause. Time really does fly by.
We also get to hear a hysterical series of comments from Obama’s brother, Craig, about what it is like to have Michelle for a sister. Before hearing them, I could only imagine what it would be like to have a sibling that was so fabulous. I call it the La Toya Jackson Syndrome. After hearing from Craig, I have newfound compassion for my three siblings.
A few of Obama’s comments from Becoming stood out for me:
“What I experience in these big arenas is the power of gathering,” Obama shares of her nationwide book tour. “We’re sharing a set of experiences. It’s like an emotional, sociological dance with people.”
That segment was somewhat jarring, as I watched it during our current COVID lockdown. Remember the good ol’ days when we gathered?
“I am from the south side of Chicago. That tells you as much about me as you need to know.”
Nope. You’ll wanna know more. Read the book.
“I have high expectations of young people. It’s the same expectation that my parents had of me.”
It was a glimpse into how one becomes Michelle Obama, and a reminder of how we should nurture and encourage our youth.
And then there was, perhaps, my favorite:
“Do you want to be inspired, or do you just want to thump it out?”
Obama asks the question of herself, as she’s deciding which of her music playlists will start her day. But it’s also a great question when thinking about whether to watch Becoming or read the book.
The new Netflix film is more “thumping it out.” If you really want to be inspired…