Barack Obama Goes to College in Netflix’s New ‘Barry’ Trailer
“You take the baton from the ones who’ve come before, and you carry it as far as you can. And maybe you hand it off.”
So opens the compelling trailer for Vikram Gandhi’s upcoming Barack Obama biopic Barry, available to stream through Netflix on December 16. They’re portentous words, but then again, the trailer’s full of weighty signifiers of the life that its subject would go on to lead. Barry joins Obama in 1981, having just transferred as a college junior to Columbia University. The President-to-be attends classes, flirts with girls (including The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy) and makes friends (such as Ellar Coltrane of Boyhood fame), but all the while, flashes of his future greatness peek through.
Gandhi earned plaudits when the film played at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year, with many critics praising Devon Terrell’s even, nuanced turn as the young Obama as the student faces down threats on both sides, with racism from cops and intimidation from Black Panthers. With one black parent and one white, the college-aged Obama feels out of place in every racial context, making as much clear when he tells his mustachioed pal “I fit in nowhere.” It's one of many weighty comments that predict the big future that the be-Afroed Barry has in store for him — another comes when he discusses the nature of change, the chiefest theme of the Obama administration, with the young woman played by Taylor-Joy.
With Obama preparing to cede his office to Donald Trump in a couple months’ time (assuming that Trump hasn’t been indicted, impeached, or otherwise invalidated by that point), this provides a nice sort of coda to the past eight years. It’ll be a while until we have another President with a comparably beastly jump shot.