This film was previously reviewed on 12/10/17 as part of London Film Festival.
If you’re in the rather large camp of people that are really missing President Obama right now, this is the documentary for you. Unashamedly biased, and painting Obama in nothing but a good light, director Greg Barker takes an in-depth and intimate look at his final year in office.
What stops The Final Year from being just a soppy love letter is the focus on the team around Obama, made up of John Kerry, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, and Ben Rhodes. In particular, the documentary takes a look at how the team honed in on getting their foreign policy as much in line as possible before shutting up shop.
Power in particular is fascinating to watch, as she juggles a young family and constant trips overseas, while passionately fighting for causes she is desperate to help. It’s hard in documentaries like this to see the full picture, but the team all come across incredibly well, despite evidently being beyond tired. It’s also a real surprise to see just how small the team is that supports the President.
Obviously, Obama himself is super cool throughout, with footage of him speaking openly and warmly to members of the public that’s so uplifting it becomes kind of depressing. That is unfortunately the real sting in the tail with The Final Year: we all know just how it ends. Particularly depressing are the moments with Rhodes explaining how unlikely it would be for Donald Trump to win the election, and the moment where they all begin to realise on election night that Hillary Clinton is not going to win.
Undeniably one for Obama fans only, The Final Year is a fantastic portrait of the last few months of his presidency, giving real insight into life in the White House and the amount of power that the current President really has.
CAST: Samantha Power, John Kerry, Ben Rhodes, Susan Rice, Barack Obama
DIRECTOR: Greg Barker
SYNOPSIS: With an election looming, The Final Year observes the administration’s key players in foreign policy as they work to cement their gains in international relations, painstakingly negotiated over two terms.