The latest Netflix Original Documentary journeys with former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama as she promotes her best selling memoir on her 2019 book tour. Becoming is directed by Nadia Hallgren who accompanied Obama throughout her tour and features segments of her interviews as well as community meetings, news footage and behind the scenes recordings.
Becoming allows audiences to see Obama in a less formal manner, she no longer has the pressure that comes with being the First Lady and it’s wonderful to see her more relaxed and able to let loose slightly more. Nonetheless, this isn’t to say that she’s not taking her work seriously anymore, this documentary proves quite the contrary. Simply speaking Becoming allows her fantastic personality to shine through even more so than her time in the White House, where it was already obvious to the watching world. The documentary offers a well rounded history of Obama, charting her life from her childhood, her time as a student at Princeton University, meeting her husband, their campaign trail and their eventual time in office. Whilst only so much detail can be expected from a ninety minute documentary covering so much the film provides interesting, important and empowering anecdotes thanks to Obama’s personal insights.
The film can feel a little opportunistic at times, seemingly taking advantage of the already existing book tour resulting in it feeling more like a concert film than an independent documentary. However, Obama’s charisma and the engaging content that it contains prevent this from ever really becoming an issue that impairs the enjoyment of the audience. The film allots some of its runtime to a number of the young people Obama talks with in the community meetings that she takes part in alongside her tour. This is a nice element to the film, however it’s not quite fully realised, but it doesn’t feel jarring within the light and general style of filmmaking present here. As well as these individuals Obama’s family are featured and it’s always charming to see them interact, reminding audiences that whilst she’s no longer the First Lady she’s still a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother and the film explores just how these relationships are impacted through her unique life experience.
Becoming is a delightful look at Obama as she tells her own story without the insane media scrutiny that she has become so accustomed to. Her charming character is what drives this film forward and what makes it worthwhile, even if the film doesn’t delve too deeply into any particular aspect of her life and career. However, Becoming is a fun and forward thinking documentary that impressively packages the life of Michelle Obama so far into a polished and professional production which fans will appreicate to no end.
Written by Hamish Calvert
STAR RATING –★★★
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