Netflix has unveiled the first teaser trailer for the thoughtful, surprising Barack Obama biopic Barry. Directed by Vikram Gandhi (Kumaré), the film takes a unique approach to the life of Obama, specifically focusing on the future president’s junior year at Columbia University in 1981. The drama premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival this past September, and I was lucky enough to catch it (read my full review here). It took me and many other critics off guard, with Gandhi crafting a compelling narrative not just about Obama, but about the black experience in America. This is no Hallmark Original Movie or cash-grab, it’s a layered, artful film as we see “Barry” navigate a crime-ridden and racially charged New York City while striking up a relationship with a white woman (played by The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy) and struggling to reconcile his non-relationship with his estranged father.
One of the best things about Barry is how quickly you forget that it’s a Barack Obama movie. Devon Terrell—who was poised to lead Steve McQueen’s HBO series Codes of Conduct before the network passed on the pilot—delivers a star-making performance that fully realizes this character. The film overcomes the heavy baggage of our nation’s first black president, and would honestly work just as well if it were about a fictional character rather than a public figure.
Netflix has announced a December 16th release date, and I’ll be curious to see if the film cracks this year’s awards race. Reviews out of TIFF were glowing, especially for Terrell, and the film boasts a thoughtful script from Adam Mansbach and tremendous cinematography by Adam Newport-Berra.
Take a brief look at Barry in the teaser trailer below. The film also stars Ashley Judd, Jason Mitchell, Jenna Elfman, Ellar Coltrane, and Avi Nash.