You either love her or hate her – revere her or wish she never stepped foot into the White House. And this documentary won’t do much to change your mind – because it doesn’t aim to.
Emmy nominated and directed by the award-winning Nadia Hallgren, Becoming follows the former First Lady on her book tour across the United States, highlighting shared messages from fans and White House personnel alike. We see her take the stage at arenas filled with adoring fans as she sits across from world-renowned hosts, including Oprah, Stephen Colbert, and Gayle King, who ask the deeper questions of the book, perfectly segueing into the meat of the movie.
About Michelle Obama:
Becoming takes viewers through Michelle’s childhood home, helping us almost feel the warmth of her mother’s laugh and ache of her father’s now-empty chair. We see her lovingly tumultuous relationship with her brother take the scene when the “favourite” child wasn’t the one who was sitting at some of the most important seats around the world but the one who always stayed close by. It’s a relatable sibling fight, regardless of profession or fame.
When the raw moments of Michelle detailing her young love with Former President Barack Obama are shared, you can’t help but blush. She talks about how she was designated to help him with school, and the second she saw him, she knew something was going on. It’s a love story that’s small yet vast, like most. It’s a detail that highlights how many U.S. citizens felt about the Obama presidency – elevated from the rest of America but still close that people felt relatability.
The thing about this documentary is that it doesn’t try to make you change your view of her or her husband, it tries to reshape your perspective on your own life. We listen to storey after story of young women going to her book tours, asking questions, and telling their own struggles with race, gender, and economic wage gaps. They question how they, too, can come from what feels like the bottom and hit the top of their dreams.
Growing up in the southside of Chicago, Michelle explains that she didn’t have a lot of money or opportunities. She worked hard, studied hard, and dreamed big. And when she told her school counsellor that she was going to apply to Harvard, she was met with doubt and discouragement. But that never stopped her.
Today, she tells these stories to help raise up younger generations who are met with the same doubt and belittlement. This documentary aided as encouragement for anyone struggling to see a brighter future for themselves.
What’s refreshing about this documentary is that it doesn’t focus too much on just one aspect of her life. The focus isn’t even entirely on her – but the people who believe in her. While we get snippets of Barack and her two daughters, they’re not her story, and they’re not the documentary – they’re just a part of it. What we see is a woman becoming herself: a mother, First Lady, and woman.
You can watch this documentary on Netflix and purchase her memoir at participating bookstores nationwide.
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Larissa Hamblin is a digital writer based in Brooklyn.