The Way I See It [TIFF20 Review]

Nostalgia is something that we can all relate too, especially in today’s world where everything seems to be going into shambles. The Way I See It banks on this idea of nostalgia. Following Pete Souza and revisiting his eight years as the photographer for President Obama and his response following President Trump’s election and today’s world. Composing itself mostly of images and stock footage intertwined with interviews, The Way I See It tries to make you yearn for past times and fear our future with the current President of the United States at its head.

Pete Souza became well known following his viral Instagram account that saw him respond to President Trump’s comments and action by posting pictures of President Obama with snarky comebacks. It took the internet by storm and since then he has become somewhat of a sensation. The thing is, is it enough to make a full documentary about him? The short answer is simple, no. But the long one is far more complicated. The thing about The Way I See It is that it’s subject is so small that it tries to expand it into a full-fleshed film and it doesn’t always work. Running too long, repeating itself but the main thing is, it takes so damn long to get to its main point. The Instagram account that made him famous is barely mentioned until well into the film, after at least an hour spent with the film and by then, the interest is already starting to dissipate, because the truth is simple, it’s hard to sustain a subject that is so thin.

The Way I See It main problem is that at times it goes into the preachy dilemma that too many documentaries about public figures can’t evade. The film truly becomes as simple as Obama’s good, Trump’s bad. And it’s hard to argue with that when you look at the world but also we can’t forget that Obama wasn’t perfect either. But the film decides otherwise, playing into our hate of the world and the uncertainty of everything. The movie tries so hard to tell us its message that it just repeats itself over and over again. It doesn’t try to be something else than just a preachy documentary and while it works at times and brings you to tears, it also becomes very redundant, making it impossible to enjoy it as the filmmakers try to hammer their idea in your head over and over again.

Pete Souza’s story is interesting, a son of immigrants who became a Presidential photograph for Richard Nixon first and then coming back and doing it again for Obama. Who as a photograph that was involved in politics never said his allegiance out loud until Trump took office and was so distraught at what he was seeing that he decided that enough was enough. The problem is that instead of starting with the reason why most of us know him, the documentary decides to start from the beginning and not get to the reason why we are here until too late. The Way I See It had everything to succeed but it needs to be grandiose just fails.

The Way I See It isn’t bad but the problems in it are impossible to ignore. All of that brings it down and becomes muddled, becomes nothing more than just another film. Not memorable or anything, it fails to reach it’s potential.