Many of us are still reminiscing on the good days of the Obama administration. Back when our President was more concerned with policy than tweeting. Back when our President respected the diversity of this country instead of insulting Black and brown immigrants. Back when our President was a humanist and not a racist. If you miss our former President, The Final Year is a must-see.
Directed by Greg Baker, the documentary is a look into the last year of the Obama administration by following his foreign policy team, which includes John Kerry, Samantha Power and Ben Rhodes. We see the challenges they faced from the conflict in Syria to media scrutiny to the 2016 election. Baker pulls together a tight film with funny, lovable and equally serious moments. This is a White House we have never seen.
The first half of the doc is definitely for political junkies and may not be as appealing to the average person who doesn’t worship politics. However, the second half kicks into high gear with the 2016 election. It’s fascinating to see the Obama administration watch Trump run for office and, in the final scenes, their reaction when Hillary Clinton loses. The compassion, shock and fear for their country is sincere and Baker’s execution in capturing these moments was flawless.
The only negative of The Final Year is there wasn’t enough Obama. Clearly, the President was busy in his final year and much of his work is confidential, but it would have been interesting to get a better glimpse of the President. Outside of a couple interviews, Obama’s narrative is missing from the film, which was an obvious void.
There was one powerful moment when Samantha Power, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, strongly disagreed with Obama and Ben Rhodes (Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting) about how the President discussed foreign policy in a speech. Samantha’s candor was admirable, she didn’t agree and didn’t hold back her critiques. Now we have a President where no one on his team is allowed to disagree — and they even lie for him — like a dictatorship. Times have swiftly changed, which is why it’s was haunting when the doc closed with the classic song “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”
Intimate, revelatory and seriously important, The Final Year is a time capsule of the dignity and grace that was once in The White House.
The Final Year opens tomorrow. Watch the trailer below.