Netflix has unveiled the first teaser trailer for the thoughtful, surprising Barack Obama biopic Barry. Directed by Vikram Gandhi (Kumaré), the film takes a unique approach to the life of Obama, specifically focusing on the future president’s junior year at Columbia University in 1981. The drama premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival this past September, and I was lucky enough to catch it (read my full review here). This is no Hallmark Original Movie or cash-grab, it’s a layered, artful film as we see “Barry” navigate a crime-ridden and racially charged New York City while striking up a relationship with a white woman (played by The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy) and struggling to reconcile his non-relationship with his estranged father.
One of the best things about Barry is how quickly you forget that it’s a Barack Obama movie. Devon Terrell delivers a star-making performance that fully realizes this character. The film overcomes the heavy baggage of our nation’s first black president, and would honestly work just as well if it were about a fictional character rather than a public figure.
Netflix has announced a December 16th release date, and I’ll be curious to see if the film cracks this year’s awards race. Reviews out of TIFF were glowing, especially for Terrell, and the film boasts a thoughtful script from Adam Mansbach and tremendous cinematography by Adam Newport-Berra.
Here’s the official synopsis for Barry:
A young Barack Obama, known to his friends as “Barry,” arrives in New York City in the fall of 1981 to begin his junior year at Columbia University. In a crime-ridden and racially charged environment, Barry finds himself pulled between various social spheres and struggles to maintain a series of increasingly strained relationships with his Kansas-born mother, his estranged Kenyan father, and his classmates. Barry is the story of a young man grappling with those same issues that his country, and arguably the world, are still coming to terms with 35 years later.