There are only two ways you could tell this story—inspired by the day-long first date between Barack Obama (Parker Sawyers) and his future wife Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter) in summer 1989—and both are fraught with peril. You could remind viewers that they were just ordinary folks: legal intern Barack with his rusted-floorboard car and smoking habit; young associate Michelle fond of chocolate ice cream and willing to dance with a drum circle. Or you could make it one of those “origin” stories that shows us all the building blocks of the hero(es) to come: Barack delivering an inspiring speech, or deftly making his white boss feel less threatened by Do the Right Thing. At various points, writer/director Richard Tanne takes both paths, and it’s a lot of weight for a gentle romantic drama to carry. Sawyers nails the cadences of Barack’s oratory in a way that doesn’t feel like a mere impression, and the chemistry between the two leads is natural and authentic. It’s just hard to surrender to the idea that this is an average love story, when it only exists because the day that it captures changed history.
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