Before he was Mr. President, he was a Columbia University student searching for hope. In the first full-length trailer for Barry, Netflix’s young Barack Obama biopic, we peek at the future 44th President of the United States as he forms his views on race, government, and what it means to be American.
The film couldn’t be more timely. As Obama prepares to hand over the White House keys to his successor, waves of sentimental nostalgia for his presidency have already spread around the world. It’s now time to cement his legacy, and films like Barry will shape the narrative we tell.
Australian newcomer Devon Terrell has the daunting honour of stepping into Obama’s shoes, portraying him as a 20-year-old undergraduate grappling with his identity and indulging in the classic college pastimes of drinking, smoking, and dancing. It’s not just Terrell’s first feature film credit – it’s his first acting credit ever.
The Sydney Morning Herald praised his performance, saying he “inhabits the character with an enthralling, quiet complexity, fleshing out in nuanced but forensic detail an Obama who fitted in nowhere and everywhere, and was powered by a singular sense of drive and integrity amid his identity struggles.” The film also garnered positive reviews when it debuted at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
Filmmaker Vikram Gandhi (Kumaré, HBO’s “Vice”), a Columbia University alumni, was inspired to write and direct this feature in collaboration with fellow alum Adam Mansbach (author of “Go the F**k to Sleep”). The official synopsis reads:
“A young Barack Obama, known to his friends as ‘Barry,’ arrives in New York City in the fall of 1981 to begin his junior year at Columbia University. In a crime-ridden and racially charged environment, Barry finds himself pulled between various social spheres and struggles to maintain a series of increasingly strained relationships with his Kansas-born mother, his estranged Kenyan father, and his classmates. Barry is the story of a young man grappling with those same issues that his country, and arguably the world, are still coming to terms with 35 years later.”
The film will begin streaming on Netflix on December 16.