LFF 2017 – The Final Year Review LFF 2017 – The Final Year Review
Up close and personal with the former President Obama in this powerful and stirring documentary. Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to the United Nations... LFF 2017 – The Final Year Review

Up close and personal with the former President Obama in this powerful and stirring documentary.

Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to the United Nations sits in a room with assembled notable political women, her children, and other friends. With a selection of crudités out in front of them there is something of a celebratory atmosphere, with the possibility of a female president seeming like a certainty.

Of course, with hindsight we know how this one pans out, and with the dips and snacks left untouched, Power looks on, as the world also looked on, in disbelief that Donald Trump was to be elected the next President.

With this documentary, there is of course the unshakeable retrospective of knowing exactly how everything pans out, which gives this countdown to the inevitable, the edge of a “ticking clock thriller”. As months became days, hours and minutes, the impressive peacebuilding focused staff of the Obama administration desperately try to lay adequate footing for the next lot of people to take office.

Time is spent with three people in particular, as well as the former President; the aforementioned Samantha Power, John Kerry, and Ben Rhodes. With the focus on those people directly at his side, this compelling documentary offers an insightful perspective of those closest to Obama, who on the whole each reflect his desire for peace and stability. Considerable amount of time is spent with Power in particular, who as her name might suggest, is something of a superwoman; a nurturing mother, an impassioned advocate for society’s most neglected, and a well-respected politician. Something of the MVP of this film, her encounters with refugees in war-torn countries are where much of the emotional heart of this film lies.

The man behind many of Obama’s great speeches, Ben Rhodes is an uncommonly bumbling character who has a personal media issue to contend with all whilst penning some of the most important final speeches that Obama would make. Some surprising moments of comedic relief at Rhodes’ expense do lighten the mood at times, but there is also a genuine moment of pathos when he finds himself at a loss for words when the Trump administration takes office. If ever there was a reflection of most of the world, it is in this moment of utter speechlessness from a man who, despite being one of those closest to Obama, never saw this result coming.

Obama himself perhaps doesn’t feature as much as you might anticipate in this film, but his moments will leave many with a deep respect for how this man overcame all the odds to make genuine and lasting changes. This brings with it a sense of sadness though. This documentary never strays from the notion that the world is very different now, that all the good work can easily be undone, and you will inevitably leave this film with a heavy heart and a sense of real sadness that the world is in such a state that someone who would seek to create fractions once again, that people had previously worked so tirelessly to repair.

There is a glimmer of hope though, words from Obama himself as he reflects on the next generation of leaders, the children and the young people who have a strong desire to change the world and bring about real, lasting, and tangible improvements. After watching this, you might find it difficult to escape the desire to do just that. >

Honest, touching, genuine and powerful, this documentary undoubtedly has its audience in mind, and it’ll do little to convince those who choose to follow another path, but it’s appeal to common decency and it’s testament to the power of negotiation and diplomacy is hard to question.

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Sarah Buddery

I spend about 80 percent of my time talking about movies. And the other 20 percent of the time, I'm praying for someone else to bring up movies so I could talk about movies more. Obsessed with Star Wars, Marvel, and all things film. I also know more pointless Jaws facts than you could shake a mechanical shark at.