Former first lady Michelle Obama’s fans and supporters were excited for the May 6 release of her new Netflix documentary “Becoming,” expecting it to be as successful as her 2018 book was.
But after the widely anticipated film, directed by Nadia Hallgren, was released, critics weren’t exactly raving about it. In fact, some seemed to be pretty disappointed.
Prior to its release, the trailer appeared to offer a better inside look into the Obamas than what reviewers got.
I’m thrilled to give you a sneak peek of BECOMING before it premieres on Netflix on May 6. This movie tells my story, from my childhood on the South Side of Chicago to my life today—and it celebrates the powerful stories of the people I met along the way. #IAmBecoming pic.twitter.com/jXqGTMRIZc
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) May 4, 2020
Variety accused the film of presenting the former first lady in a “manicured” fashion.
“There are no big revelations here, no gotcha moments or intimate scenes in which Hallgren’s subject lets down her guard, but the target audience hardly expects anything tougher,” Variety wrote.
“Far more than the memoir, the film presents a manicured version of the way Michelle Obama sees herself — and yet, even such a carefully image-managed impression can be telling, since it diverges so significantly from the way the world perceives her.”
Other critics painted the film as nothing more than a tool to help the Obama family “retreat from the global stage.”
“The film feels very much like an artifact of the Obamas’ attempted retreat from the global stage in favor of private lives producing socially relevant nonfiction films,” Vulture wrote. “There’s no more eloquent, if disappointing, flex of power than the film’s refusal to really engage on the topic lurking at its edges like a stalker pointing out the sidewalk he’s standing on is technically public property.”
The former FLOTUS isn’t just getting flack about what Variety called her book’s “DVD bonus feature.”
Conservatives and pro-lifers weren’t happy about the comments she made in regard to motherhood during her documentary.
“My relationship with Barack was all about our equal partnership,” Obama said in the film.
“The thing that really changed it was the birth of our children. I wasn’t really ready for that. That really made it harder,” she added. “Something had to give and it was my aspirations and dreams.”
Outrage about her comments on motherhood broke out on Twitter shortly after the film was released.
Michelle Obama said in her Netflix documentary that having kids ruined all her career aspirations.
Losing your law license?
— DeAnna Lorraine 🇺🇸 (@DeAnna4Congress) May 8, 2020
Ummm… Wow… Happy Mother’s Day Michelle? “Michelle Obama says having kids was ‘concession’ in new Netflix doc” https://t.co/YAqhoswUST
— Deneen Borelli (@deneenborelli) May 8, 2020
How incredibly sad for her two daughters to hear this.
And what an dreadful (and untrue) message for moms across the country, essentially saying kids ruin everything.https://t.co/mtXq7Bqj6J
— Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) May 8, 2020
Between criticisms of the documentary’s watered-down look and Obama’s comments on motherhood, “Becoming” likely isn’t the smash hit that the former first family was hoping for.
But given the ongoing relationship between the Obamas and Netflix, Michelle Obama will likely get plenty more chances to try.
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