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President Barack Obama holds a meeting in the Oval Office to prep for a videconference in the White House, on Feb. 23, 2016, in a photo taken by Pete Souza, the subject of the new documentary The Way I See It.

Pete Souza/Official White House Photo / Courtesy of Focus Features

  • The Way I See It
  • Directed by Dawn Porter
  • Classification PG; 100 minutes

rating

2 out of 4 stars


If you like a film with zero surprises and a healthy amount of political hagiography, then you might elect for four more years of Dawn Porter’s documentary. Chronicling the career and activism of former White House chief photographer Pete Souza, Porter’s doc plays like half a collection of home movies, half a feather-light tribute to the Obama administration. There is certainly much to celebrate and remember about the former U.S. president’s tenure, but Souza, and Porter, don’t seem much interested in anything approaching nuance.

Pete Souza, former photographer for President Barack Obama, is seen at the Capitol Theater in Madison, Wis., on Oct. 26, 2019.

Lauren Justice/Courtesy of Focus Features

The result is a strangely apolitical look at the world of high politics, unless you count too-easy Trump bashing as state-of-affairs commentary. While Souza seems a likable and committed fellow, there’s not much to his story that justifies a feature-doc treatment (other than unintentionally highlighting that the guy sure likes to break into tears when recalling his time with POTUS No. 44).

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Everything else you could want to know about The Way I See It is revealed during the end credits, which is hilariously soundtracked to an un-ironic cover of Leonard Cohen’s Democracy: “I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean /I love the country but I can’t stand the scene / And I’m neither left or right / I’m just staying home tonight.”

The Way I See It opens in select Canadian theatres Sept. 18

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