With high expectations, "Barry" falls flat By Lulu Stracher '17

By most measures, Barack Obama’s political career started at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, when he declared that there were no red states, no blue states, just the United States of America. His role as the keynote speaker propelled him into the spotlight.

Despite being the most powerful man on the planet, the public knows little about his upbringing by a white mother and an absent black father, or his time at Columbia University when he was Barry, not Barack.

Barack Obama and his mother in 1979. Photo courtesy of Stacey Ann Dunham.

On a Saturday afternoon, while I was perusing the ‘Recently Added’ section of Netflix, I yelped almost audibly out of excitement when I saw “Barry”. I had known this movie was coming, but I thought it wasn’t for another few weeks. As any Obama enthusiast would, I clicked ‘play’, and waited.

Photo via my Netflix account.

Throughout the 104 minutes of “Barry”, I was waiting- for either some conflict, a revelation from Barack about race relations, or anything to distract me from his slow paced journey in Morningside Heights. There were a few promising moments, like an altercation with a police officer on Columbia’s campus, but these moments didn’t seem very introspective or well thought out.

Barry (Devon Terrell) and his girlfriend (Anya Taylor-Joy). Much of the movie's "conflict" surrounds the significance of interracial relationship. Photo via Netflix.

The movie is framed as a narrative of now-President Obama navigating difficult conversations about race and his black identity in a majority white school, but these moments never happened. It felt like the movie didn’t have a climax, only rising action.

And I wanted to like it. I really did. Devon Trevell, who plays Obama, is charismatic and handsome, and the cast is well done. There were scenes that were charming and entertaining, but as a passionate Obama supporter, I was hoping for a more substantive look at President Obama’s formative years.

“Barry” was cute and well intentioned, but left me feeling very disappointed.

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