Documentary Review: Becoming (On Netflix)

Michelle Obama – Image: news.wttw.com

Review By Frances Winston

Directed by: Nadia Hallgreen – Starring: Michelle Obama

Streaming now on Netflix

This documentary follows former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, on the book tour for her phenomenally successful tome of the same name.

She treks from city to city, giving talks about the book, meeting with children and teenagers in schools, and signing for eager fans, and her enthusiasm never wavers. To say she is likeable is an understatement, and she never ceases to be anything other than an inspiration.

But this is what we’ve come to expect from Michelle. Beautiful, highly educated, and very much her own woman, she was never in the shadow of her husband during his time in office, and completely managed to carve out her own niche.

If you’ve read the book, you will know most of what is covered here, but to hear her articulate it is deeply moving. For example when she talks about how hurtful media attacks towards her were when she was on the campaign trail with Barack back in 2008 (yes it really has been that long) it is extremely affecting. Indeed, many had probably forgotten about this, as she has become so beloved. Also, it is impossible not to laugh when she explains things, such as the trials of trying to raise unspoilt children in the surreal environment of the White House. Describing how she had to stop bemused seasoned housekeepers making the beds, so the girls would do it, is a simply wonderful tale.

Seeing her interact and encourage teenagers to be their best selves as she visits schools is also incredibly inspiring. As many of them struggle with their own day to day issues and esteem, she has a gift for lifting them up and making them feel great about themselves. And the viewer in turn finds themselves cheering them on.

In fact, this whole production will leave you smiling, it is so feel-good. However, I did wish that at some point she would vent about the current administration. Of course, Michelle is such a lady that you wouldn’t expect her to have an out and out rant, but it is something filmmaker’s could have pushed further. But bear in mind that the production company is in fact the Obama’s own, and that this is very much a promotional tool for her book, and it is as celebratory as you would expect, given the success of the book and tour.

There are a couple of moments when you think she might just go there, but other than one statement made to Gayle King, who is the moderator on the Atlanta stop of her book tour, where she comments about the power of words when you are President, there is no real reference or barb that could be deemed to be aimed at the current leader.

Nonetheless, it is a lovely cheerful watch in the middle of a horrible period in the world, and will definitely give you a boost.

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