“Totally me, unplugged, for the first time.”
Becoming narrates former United States First Lady, Michelle Obama’s life in the two years after she and her family left the White House.
The audience are invited into a candid look through her life – from her childhood in the working-class community of South Side Chicago, through to her years studying at college and meeting future husband Barack at a law firm, the future 44th President of the United States. The documentary is expressed through a follow shot, in which the former First Lady is pursued by the camera, enticing the audience to follow her through her journey as she travels around the United States in late 2018 and early 2019 on a 34-city tour in support of her book.
Interviewed at each stop by celebrity hosts such as Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Reese Witherspoon and Stephen Colbert, Michelle Obama is an undeniable storyteller, with natural stage and screen presence as she engages with thousands of people – from arenas filled at close to capacity, to people bursting into tears as they queue to get a signed copy of her memoir.
Becoming intercuts between old photos and videos, as the audience see clips of President Obama’s inauguration and their first entrance into the White House in what now seems like a lifetime ago. She recalls how, from that exact moment, her life changes forever: ‘’Every gesture you make, every blink of an eye is being analysed. You have the world watching every move you make; your life isn’t yours anymore.’’
The audience are introduced to key people in her support team, such as her Chief of Staff Melissa Winer, stylist Michele Koop and Secret Service Agent Allen Taylor. Family members such as her brother Craig Robinson, mother Marian Shields Robinson and Barack himself make surprise appearances to keep the audience guessing who else could have played a major part of her life.
Michelle stops at several community groups for young girls and women’s organisations, with each having the opportunity to tell their story and to ask her questions. She speaks of the struggles of having to stand up for her ambitions, learning how to think for herself and having to leave her job in pursuit of her husband’s dream. She talks about her experiences of being vilified, misrepresented and stereotyped in the media while on the campaign trail, and how this led to “sticking to the script” to avoid constant scrutiny.
This is a documentary that reminds the audience not to listen to those that make us feel that we don’t belong; to never lose ourselves, nor to become a statistic. She has a thirst to inspire youngsters across the world, encouraging the audience to believe in their self-worth and how people should learn to use their voice. ‘’You have to believe that your story has value.’’ she says. Hallgren captures intimate insights as Michelle recalls sobbing for 30 minutes inside the Air Force One on her last flight in 2019. According to her, a release from eight years trying to do everything perfectly, the last breathing moment of her journey in the White House.
“My life is starting to be mine again.” she concludes.
Image Credit: TheMovieDB