REVIEW: Barry (2016)

Release Poster - Netflix
Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a quick review of Barry – Directed by Vikram Gandhi.

Some part of me thinks that it is too early for us to see a Barack Obama biopic – seeing as he is still the sitting President for another month – but, at the time of writing, we already have two films. Thankfully, I’m happy to report that this film – Vikram Gandhi’s Barry – definitely isn’t a waste of time. In fact, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed watching it.

It didn’t start off well. What I mean is that I didn’t really like the film that much during the first half of Barry, but then the film slowly started to work for me. And when there were only thirty to forty minutes left of the film, or so, I felt compelled to say out loud that I liked the movie. Barry follows future President Barack ‘Barry’ Obama in the 1980s during his junior year at Columbia University.

The last thirty minutes of Barry really worked for me, so much so that I started loving what I was seeing at times. You see, one of the problems that I had with the film during the first half was that I didn’t feel like the film was really driving towards anything. And there really isn’t much of a plot here. The film is basically just about these little moments and how they impact a young Obama trying to find his place in the world.

It’s really a film about self-discovery. Here, Barack ‘Barry’ Obama has no sense of belonging anywhere. He finds himself caught between two races. He’s often referred to as ‘invisible,’ but that isn’t exactly how he feels. The film makes it seem as if he doesn’t blend in anywhere – he stands out and doesn’t belong.

There are some really good and recognizable young actors in Barry. Ellar Coltrane, who you’ll definitely remember from Linklater’s Boyhood, plays a minor character in Barry, and I was a bit disappointed by how little we got of him. Jason Mitchell, who you might remember from Straight Outta Compton, and Anya Taylor-Joy, from Robert Eggers’ The Witch, leave much greater impressions.

Obviously, though, this film had to have a great performance by its leading man to truly work, and I’m surprisingly happy with what we’re given here. Obama is played by the young Australian newcomer Devon Terrell, and he gives the very best performance in the film. He doesn’t just look a little bit like Obama, he really does a good job of sounding like him without it feeling like just another impersonator. Terrell makes this film’s version of a young Barack Obama feel like a real person.

8 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex

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