Barry review

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Barry is a biopic that does not survive without the historical context of its subject. What should work as a refreshing antithesis to the genre is unfortunately thin and empty. To be fair, condensing the charisma of Barack Obama into any format is a mighty challenge, but this Netflix release doesn’t do itself any favors by dealing with the mundane. By attempting to elevate mundanity into profundity, the film falls victim to the conventions and cliches it dearly tries to distance itself from. It never truly prospers into anything impactful because the simplicity is so forced. Like the lowkey Sundance release “Southside With You”, Barry goes through the motions by focusing on a specific era before Obama became president. In 1981, Barry attends school in gritty New York, encounters arbitrary racial tensions, plays basketball, and falls in love (Anya Taylor-Joy from “The Witch” in a warm change of pace). It’s an admirable intention but it pads along without the necessary poetry. Despite a plot that’s repetitive with its beats, the movie is directed with unassuming comfort and Devon Terrell confidently inhabits the frame well without resorting to mimicry and provides the underwritten role with the anxious swagger it was desperately missing. Also, the less said about Ellar Coltrane the better! [C+]

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