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 also 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. Viewers see the challenges the team 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 haven’t seen before.
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 Washington. 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, its 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 of 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 him. Outside of a couple of interviews, Obama’s own narrative is missing from the film, which was an obvious void.
There was one moving moment in particular when Power, then the United States ambassador to the United Nations, strongly disagreed with Obama and Ben Rhoades (Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting) about how the president discussed foreign policy in a speech. Power’s candor was admirable, as she didn’t agree and didn’t hold back her critiques. Now we have a presidency 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 so fitting when the doc ends 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 in select cites tomorrow. Watch the trailer below.