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Obama - Becoming.Becoming (2020)

Back in November 2018, former First Lady Michelle Obama published her memoir Becoming (NYT: "a serious work of candid reflection"), which in a mere two weeks became the best-selling book in the United States for that year. One year later it had sold 10 million copies, and as of today over 14 million copies. When the memoir was published, Obama went on a 34-city book tour, and that's what this movie is about. She narrates her own stories as we follow her from city to city at book signings, indoor coliseums, churches, colleges, elementary schools, with Oprah and Colbert, her childhood home, and so on. One of the frustrating things about being First Lady, she observes, was the fishbowl effect: how you had to carefully script every tiny detail of your life, because your every word, action, dress, and gesture was scrutinized by the entire world. So, at least to some degree, in this movie we see Michelle off leash and unguarded, but only to a certain degree. The film revisits her life story beginning on the south side of Chicago, the influence of her family (especially her beloved brother), schooling at Princeton and Harvard, meeting Barack, and then super stardom. I have to say that for a person in her position, she seems genuinely grounded.  This is a mother who in the White House ordered the maids to stop making her daughters' beds — they had to do that themselves! Nor did she want all the butlers wearing tuxedos when they served them 24-7! I watched this film on Netflix.

Dan Clendenin:

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