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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Trailer Watch: BARRY Highlights President Obama's Life as a College Student Grappling With Race and Identity



Yes, but can we talk about the fact that literally as we sleep each night Netflix creates about 35 original programs? It's clearly planning world domination.

This latest edition to the streaming empire, the newly minted Independent Spirit Award nominee BARRY, focuses on President Barack Obama during his college years--a time when most of us are still grappling with who we are and who we want to be. For Obama, it seems (from the trailer below) that he floated across various social circles--white spaces and black spaces alike--in search of an a-ha moment where he would stumble upon his true identity as a biracial 20-something living in America. The subtle yet significant evolution of his birth name from his Barack to Barry suggests his assimilation to white American culture and a possible abandonment (or neglect) of his roots which would come to define these formative years of his life long before becoming Commander-in-Chief. 

I find it interesting that this film comes just as the president is winding down his time in the White House, and its new tenant will be a conservative old white man whose relationship with the black community has reached threatening levels. It's as if this film serves as one last reminder of who we're 
losing, in preparation for the contentious conversations that will undoubtedly replace him. 

This is the first feature length film directed by Vikram Gandhi, and the cast includes Devon Terrell (as Barry), Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton),Ashley Judd, Jenna Elfman, Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood), and Linus Roache (Law and Order).

More in the synopsis:

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.

Watch the trailer:


BARRY debuts on Netflix December 16. 

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