Netflix series takes intimate look at Michelle Obama on road - Beaking Kenya News

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Saturday, 30 May 2020

Netflix series takes intimate look at Michelle Obama on road

On May 6, with most of the world on some form of lockdown owing to Covid-19, Netflix released a documentary, "Becoming", on Michelle Obama's 2018 book tour for her book by the same title.
When the documentary begins, the first emotion that jumps at you is the sad longing for large public events, as you see thousands upon thousands of people stream to the 34 city tour venues.
Around the 10-minute mark, Mrs Obama sums it all up perfectly: “What I experience in these arenas is the power of gathering …”
When the book Becoming was released in 2018, it broke records and became the bestselling book published in America that year in just 15 days.
There is even hope that the book might end up being the bestselling memoir in history. So when filmmaker Nadia Hallgren, who has two Oscars under her belt, got the call to document the book's tour, she obliged.
Almost two years later, "Becoming" would become the second documentary to be released by the Obamas' production house, Higher Ground. The company has a multi-year agreement to do several works for streaming giant Netflix, and a third documentary, Crip Camp, is on the way this year.
"Becoming" follows the Obamas' Netflix debut, "American Factory", which was released in January 2019 and won the 2020 Academy award for Best Documentary Feature.
Hallgreen, who has had 15 years' experience in the documentary game, was given unprecedented access to the former First Lady and captured quite a close look into the happenings on the tour.
The film begins with a glimpse into the intense preparations that went on behind the tour, starting with the team's decision on who the moderators were going to be on each stop, ranging from Gayle King, Conan O'brien, Stephen Colbert and even Oprah.
The film tactfully introduces the audience to the people closest to Mrs Obama — her mother, her older brother, Secret Service agent Allen, and her long-serving chief of staff, Melissa Winter.
Barack Obama's presence in the documentary is limited, and Hallgreen explained why in an interview with WWD: “It was a very conscious decision not to include an extensive sit-down interview with the President. I wanted as much as possible to tell this story from Ms Obama's perspective.”
The overarching theme in the film is, of course, the activities that Michelle participates in on the road, mostly speeches, interviews, book signings, and intimate interactions with select groups of people from across America.
Aside from this, though, the film delves into an interesting-to-watch sibling rivalry between her and her older brother, Craig Robinson.
Mrs Obama reflects on her family's slavery past and the strength and death of her father. She delves into dicey marital matters and having to tone down her ambitions for the sake of her husband.
She speaks about having to deal with the vitriol that was thrown her way during the campaign as well as during her time as the First Lady.
Yet despite this, one is left feeling like you learned anything new and that the documentary, touted to be an intimate let-in into her life and the events that shaped her, doesn't feel very personal.
The documentary comes off as an event coverage piece, and even in the moments when Mrs Obama does introduce anyone intimately, it's fleeting and brief.
There are a few remarkable scenes: an emotional interaction between Obama and her daughter Malia after she sees her speak ,as well as Michelle's visit to her old parents' house.
In one scene, after Barack visits Michelle on tour, they're walking away from the venue, and in a moment of vulnerability, she asks her husband for reassurance, “Do you think my show's good? Is it something you'd want to see?”

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