“Becoming,” debuts Wednesday on Netflix.
The film is an extension of Michelle Obama's best-selling memoir of the same name. Produced by Higher Ground Productions, the film company was founded by the Obamas.
Higher Ground has backed socially-minded documentaries about American labor like the Oscar-winning “American Factory” and the disability rights movement with “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” .
Much of “Becoming” takes place either in arenas crowded with cameras or in private settings — the back seat of an SUV, the childhood home of Obama — where few would have spotted her.
Unlike the interview-heavy Hulu doc-series “Hillary” on Hillary Clinton, Becoming’s approach is mostly fly-on-the-wall, mixing glossy onstage footage of Obama’s talks with the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Stephen Colbert with more personal scenes offstage. Obama reflects on her eight years in the White House and the often racist-tinged response they engendered. “You hope people were more ready for us than maybe they were,” she says.
The main focus of “Becoming” is not just Obama’s story but what she inspires — “Becoming” may be part concert film but it’s nearly as interested in the audience as it is in the showstopper on stage.
The timing of “Becoming” is interesting not just because it captures a sense of community before people were forced into lockdown by the pandemic but because it comes in the middle of the presidential campaign. The Deadline review of the film isn’t alone in maintaining: “If Michelle Obama wasn’t so adamant that she isn’t running for public office, the perfectly timed new Netflix documentary ‘Becoming’ would sure seem like a campaign launch.”
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