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The Final Year – Film Review – Out in UK Cinemas – Friday 19th January 2018

U.S. President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (not pictured) in New York September 25, 2014. With Obama from left are Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power and Secretary of State John Kerry. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Initially, my love for President Obama, attracted me to this film, but after viewing I have a new-found respect, not only for the man himself, but for the absolutely amazing team he had surrounded himself with.

As a British woman, I am naturally quite interested in UK politics, as this directly affects my life and those around me, but American politics has not been very high on my radar unless there is some British connection.

As a person of colour, it was amazing to witness Barack Obama becoming the US President, but he’s American and unless his policies impact on British policy I don’t really pay attention.

Most will agree that President Obama is quite a sensible, charismatic individual who he seemed to be supporting all Americans, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds.


President Barack Obama greets U.S. troops following his remarks at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This documentary film documents President Obama and his foreign policy team, consisting of Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes, John Kerry and Susan Rice in the last year of his time in office.

Take a look at the trailer…

We meet John Kerry, who met Barack Obama when he, himself was running for President and asked Barack to be a key speaker in his campaign. John Kerry also won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work with Iran.

In this film, we get to be a fly on the wall in meetings where they are discussing many topics, such as the foreign terrorist fight, climate change, the Cuban war and Syria.

The film is a very interesting look at behind the scenes, at the main issues being discussed, the stresses and strains of the job and how it impacts on their personal relationships.


I assumed this film would focus mostly on President Obama, but it didn’t, it  focused on the work that his foreign policy team were doing giving us a rare chance to get to know these individuals very well and also to see the challenges they were up against.

Each team member had their own roles and tasks and then report back to the president at various stages, and although something may be very important to deal with, there may be a more urgent issue on the president’s agenda that may mean delays to progression of their work – this is quite frustrating at times, as you really get to see where they’re coming from.

I sympathised with the real efforts of Ben Rhodes, he lived his life, travelling around the world, trip to trip, speech to speech, whilst also trying to also be a good husband and a father.

President Barack Obama talks with Amb. Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, following a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Sept. 12, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

During the film it was so hard not to fall in love with Samantha Power, the work she was doing with the UN and Syria was so frustrating and sometimes heart-breaking to watch, you can feel her passion for the work, she really wished she could do more to help those impacted by the war.

After watching this film, I realised as much as I admired Obama, I had a new-found respect that he was clever enough to build an amazing team of individuals around him and gave them quite a lot of freedom to make day-to-day decisions in their respective areas – that’s the mark of a true leader who trusts his team.

Each of the members focused on in this film, had a real personal passion for the causes they were dealing with.

If you see this film, you will see the Obama administration in a new light.

A thought-provoking documentary… Go see it!

Chanel 😉

Chanel Williams

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