In one scene, Barry (Devon Terrell) meets up with Charlotte (Anya Taylor-Joy), his new girlfriend, to watch political-centric news and indulge in Chinese food — I know, such a romantic date. Straying away from the television, the two jokingly discuss how change is brought about in the political world, where Charlotte describes Barry’s politics as “cute.” Next thing you know, a passionate make-out session begins and shirts are being taken off. It’s safe to say that politics, to some individuals, is the perfect aphrodisiac.
2. They slyly recreated a popular photo shoot from Obama’s college years.
In case you haven’t seen it before, there’s well-known photo shoot of Obama from his college years. In the photos, a young Barack can be seen wearing a dress shirt, at times rocking a wide-brimmed hat, and even holding (and smoking) a cigarette.
Although there are clear differences within the film’s adaptation of this moment (when the photo was taken, by whom and the location), it is a neat scene to include in the film (this scene has little importance — I just thought it was pretty cool).
3. Vikram Gandhi’s film is a hit.
Scoring a 72 (out of 100) on Metacritic and a fresh 79 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, “Barry” can simply be deemed as a success. It is puzzling, however, that on Netflix, where the film is exclusively streamed, the rating is only a poor one out of five stars. This makes me happy, too. I had a few Barry/Obama puns created in case this movie flopped: O-bummer, Un-Barry-able, etc. Instead, I can say this: the movie was Barry good.
4. Devon Terrell was born to play a young Barack Obama.
Devon Terrell was practically unheard of before starring in “Barry”: that’s because this was the 24-year-old’s first role in ANY film. Helluva debut, right?
Born to an Anglo-Indian mother and an African-American father, Terrell shares a biracial identity with Obama — an identity that, along with the difficulties in settling into a new environment (for Obama, New York, and for Terrell, Australia), plays a key role within the film.
Besides sharing natural characteristics, including an uncanny likeness to the young Obama’s appearance, Terrell was able to master other defining qualities: his slanted, left-handed writing style, his left-handed jumper (because Barry was a baller) and his soft, iconic voice.
5. Barry's story is an important one
The basis of Vikram Gandhi’s film is a young Barry searching for his own identity, as his biracial background creates several difficulties as he strives to find a sense of belonging, searching through college classrooms, local blacktops and the streets of Harlem.
Barry is not from one place: Kenya, Jakarta, Hawaii and Los Angeles all hold meaning to him. No one place is seen as a home to him.
Nor does his biracial status create a sense of belonging, even if his friends ignorantly insist that he can “fit in anywhere.” To Barry, the world around him is uninviting and unfair to him, as he constantly — and noticeably — uses the varying nuances in communication to try to convince others — and at the same time, himself — that he belongs.
Barry gives cigarettes to strangers on the street, offers to pour shots at a white college party, speaks on literature to street vendors and gloats on his father’s Harvard education to Charlotte’s rich, white parents. He jumps from scene to scene, changing to fit in, only to inevitably fail.
His relationships, both with strangers and those close to him, also put him at odds.
Estranged from his Kenyan father, Barry both resents their relationship yet fights over the desire to learn of the shared African identity from his father.
In the relationships with Charlotte and his mother (played by Ashley Judd), Barry questions their tone-deaf fascination with the “exotic” features of black men, of which factors into Barry’s failed relationship, and possibly even his parents’.
It is not until the ending of the film that Barry comes to accept himself, as his status as “American” will never be taken away from him.
With New York as a cultural backdrop, Gandhi uses the biracial lens of a college kid to reveal the truly strained nature of race relations and identity within an unforgiving and harsh American society.
And for Barry, his journey finally leads to the acceptance of who he truly is: