Barry

LetterboxD review link

It has been a busy end-of-2016 at the movies. Catching up with Barry on a small screen, via Netflix, added needed variety into the mix. The film, small, contained, a brief slice-of-life, was nice to watch at home instead of at the theater. I’ve always felt a sense of closeness to Barack Obama. At home, in my own small New York space, was the right context.

One way to watch Barry is to wonder what the film would be like if the main character didn’t go on to become a 2-term president of the most powerful country in history. In that scenario, we get a portrait of a young man, quiet, pensive, introspective, figuring out his place in a big world. Barry feels out of place in his environment, in his relationships, in his friendships, at parties. Perhaps the basketball court is the only place where he can totally be himself. When asked about who he is, where he’s from - the most basic of questions we ask when we meet someone new - he’s unsure of how to capture himself in a few words. He has lived around the world. His experiences and interests are not easy to summarize. He wants to convey more than he can say in a normal conversation. These are feelings with which I can empathize.

For a man who would go on to become a gifted orator, politician and leader, Barry depicts him unable to express himself in words. But we know he will find himself. His path will zig-zag, but he will end up discovering his whole self. Ultimately, Barry is successful as a biopic because it carries the weight of what’s not on screen. The book he will write. The woman he will marry. The life he will lead. The weight of all of this is present in this portrait.