Review: The Way I See It (2020)

Director: Dawn Porter
Genre: Documentary 
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for brief strong language
Release Date: 9/18/20 (Streaming)
Runtime: 1h 40min 
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%
Where to Watch: Peacock
Oscar Nomination(s): Possible–Documentary Feature

The Way I See It is aimed at being a bi-partisan film that could appeal to everyone on the political spectrum, from hardcore  conservatives to a so-called liberal snowflake like myself. Sure, the subject of the film, former presidential photographer Pete Souza, photographed both Democratic (Obama) and Republican (Regan) presidents, but Souza is himself a staunch liberal and far more time is spent on Souza’s time with Obama than on his time with Regan. That could be because there is much more video and photo footage of the Obama years than the Regan years. But, regardless, I really enjoyed it — it was especially fulfilling watching this film shortly before Biden was inaugurated. 

It isn’t a perfect film, and it seems unlikely to make the Best Documentary Feature cut at this year’s [delayed] Oscars, but it’s still very fascinating, and sometimes sad, other times uplifting, funny, upsetting/frustrating, etc — like the presidencies, and like life. It’s amazing to hear the stories behind some of Souza’s most famous photographs during the Obama years; perhaps a picture is worth even more than 1,000 words. It captures a special moment in time, and there are numerous photographs that remind me of specific situations during that time. 

I wish that the film had been more chronological; although we do mostly see the Obama-era photographs and stories in order, this is interwoven with Souza in his mostly-retirement, and how he has unintentionally become highly political and the king of throwing shade (follow him on Instagram and you’ll see what I mean). Regardless, I found myself tearing up, reminiscing over those years — and thankfully, we’re headed to happier times now.