The documentary Becoming follows the former First Lady while she travels across the United States promoting her memoir. Nadia Hallgren directed the Higher Ground and Big Mouth production as part of a 3-part deal with the online media platform Netflix.
The film runs just under one hour and thirty minutes while highlighting Michelle Obama’s life. It shows her life’s highs and lows beginning from childhood to her last day in the White House. Throughout the film, Mrs. Obama speaks her truth as she encourages women, men, and children along the way of her 34-city tour.
Becoming opens up with a glimpse into Michelle’s personal life outside of being Mrs. Obama and begins with the relationship with her brother Craig. They playfully fight for the attention of their mother as they go through old family photos last looked at when their father was alive. Michelle speaks about her working-class upbringing.
“I’m from the southside of Chicago, and that tells you as much about me as you need to know.”
Michelle was groomed from a young age by her parents and grandparents to be the best of the best. She shares how outside forces tried to crush her belief in herself. Mrs. Obama also speaks about how her life was shaped by “white flight” during the ’70s. She discusses her feelings of not reaching one’s full potential because you were born black or the feeling of standing out because you are black & smart. The film then turns its lens beyond Michelle as the main focus and offers us a look at young people that she wants to touch with her life’s message.
The documentary, which includes interviews by Valerie Jarrett, Conan O’Brien, and Stephen Colbert, shares moments during her book tour as she shares her life story. Mrs. Obama speaks candidly about not wanting to be the black couple in the office when Barack began trying to court her. She also talked about the importance of knowing who she was and her purpose. She never wanted to get lost in Barack’s dream but desired to be his equal. She also opens up about marriage counseling and how she felt ending her career to focus on her young family while her husband’s career bloomed.
Michelle lets us into her raw and painful hurt of being attacked in the media when the Obama family was placed on the national stage during the ’08 campaign, how she felt the need to be perfect because they were the first black family in the White House. Michelle shares the story of how her daughter, Malia, before attending the Presidential victory rally held at Grant Park told the future President “Daddy I don’t think anyone is coming to your party.” because she didn’t see anyone out on the street as they family made their way downtown. She was unaware that the roads had been cleared to make way for the future first family. The new life they would live began on that very night.
While the documentary shies away from Michelle’s political views, she does, however, share her disappointment with the decline in voting amongst women and younger voters that did not allow her husband to get the help in Congress he needed. She also added, “When you’re the President of the United States, words matter.”
Becoming is currently playing on Netflix.