The reviews for former first lady Michelle Obama’s latest promotional piece, the newly released Netflix documentary “Becoming,” are in, and according to a new report by Fox News, they are less than stellar.
Released on May 6th after a surprise announcement in April, “Becoming” was billed by Netflix as “an intimate documentary looking at [Obama’s] life, hopes and connection with others as she tours with ‘Becoming.'” It was produced as part of the Obamas’ “Higher Ground Productions” partnership with Netflix.
According to Fox, the documentary “follows the former first lady on her 2018 book tour in which she traveled across the country speaking at various events,” featuring “not only events that Obama spoke at, but also smaller, more intimate conversations with everyday people.”
Thus, it would seem to live up to the billing, but this has not been the case largely because, as Fox’s Tyler McCarthy explains, fans were expecting so much more.
“While many hoped the documentary would either give a rare, unfiltered look into the personal lives of the former first family or even position Michelle Obama in a favorable position to enter the political realm herself, that doesn’t appear to be the case,” McCarthy writes.
So, let’s look at some of the reviews. Considering who some of these outlets are, after all, you probably wouldn’t believe that they are actually criticizing something that involved Michelle Obama unless you see it with your own eyes.
Here’s Variety‘s review in a nutshell:
There are no big revelations here, no gotcha moments or intimate scenes in which Hallgren’s subject lets down her guard, but the target audience hardly expects anything tougher. Far more than the memoir, the film presents a manicured version of the way Michelle Obama sees herself — and yet, even such a carefully image-managed impression can be telling, since it diverges so significantly from the way the world perceives her.
Vulture described the documentary as “a guarded look” at the Obamas’ post-White House life, writing, “The documentary is a sleek and generally self-celebratory affair.”
Similarly, the New York Times, in an article titled, “Becoming Review: Michelle Obama’s Lesson in Staying on Script,” writes:
The film is being billed as a ‘rare and up-close look’ at the former first lady’s life. But, whereas the memoir — through its deeply personal stories about Obama’s existential struggles in young adulthood and the pains of a miscarriage later on — offered a partial illumination of a woman who critics and admirers alike have tried to understand for years, the documentary feels more routine. It hits all the notes of a megastar choosing to share her life with the public: selective biographical moments and star-studded guest appearances, plus a healthy dose of motivational messaging about the virtues of education and the holistic ownership of personal narratives.
Others, like Deadline, for example, in addition to echoing these sentiments took issue with the fact that Obama didn’t even really say anything bad about President Donald Trump. “Still, “Becoming” doesn’t pull back the White House curtain that much, and, unlike “Becoming” the book there’s almost no mention of her husband’s successor — except in warning of the nation we are and need to own up to,” the outlet writes.
The Independent’s Annie Lord wrote that “Becoming” “feels a bit like an inspirational infomercial, bordering on hagiography.” She adds:
Though interesting topics are touched upon – marriage counselling, postnatal depression, her mum’s favouritism of her brother – rarely are these topics pursued in enough detail to become insightful.
So, it appears that the documentary is just a bit too bland for the left-wing crowd — individuals who, let’s not forget, want to see Michelle Obama as the next president, not some prominent figure in pop-culture.