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‘Becoming’ goes backstage with Michelle Obama, where everyone’s dazzled but the details are nothing new

Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” documentary takes a look behind the scenes of her book tour. (Netflix)

“Becoming,” a Netflix documentary about Michelle Obama’s arena-filling, 34-city book tour, is filled from start to finish with everything everyone already knows and presumably admires about the former first lady, especially anyone who read her best-selling memoir. The film (streaming Wednesday, directed by Nadia Hallgren) is a thoughtful scrapbook, briskly perused — an inside look that never gets too inside.

Actually, the whole thing could be somewhat skeptically received as an inside job, as so many documentaries about the ultrafamous are these days, with the line blurred between “subject” and “producer.” It was made by Michelle and Barack Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, which has an exclusive deal with Netflix (and has already produced an Oscar-winning documentary with last year’s “American Factory”).

To note this fact is not a criticism so much as a willing acceptance of the ground rules. Those who come here for their reaffirming booster shot of Obama-era hopefulness will get what they’re looking for. Those coming for something else — a news scoop or a bolder contextual take, such as Hulu’s recent “Hillary” docuseries — won’t get that but can still enjoy the sense of backstage access. Michelle Obama’s presence still electrifies any room she walks into, whether it’s as big as Capital One Arena or as small as a community center meeting room.

“Everyone in the world knows who she is,” says her wryly observant older brother, Craig Robinson. “That’s incredible — everyone in the world knows who my sister is. What is that? That’s dumb. Nobody should have to deal with that. No one. No brother should have to deal with their sister being the most popular person in the world.”

This degree of notoriety and potential power is “Becoming’s” central theme, as both its subject and the world around her consider the ramifications of taking life’s next step. Oddly absent is any scene in which Obama is hunkered down with the messy business of actually writing her memoir (also titled “Becoming”), a process that has been known to bring authors low. Instead of typing and editing and discussions about what to put in and what to leave out, we start at the book tour itself and all that it entails — sitting for makeup and hair, entering and exiting through kitchens and long hallways, getting into the SUV and then getting out of it.

Such scenes come with their own insights. We see some of Obama’s rapport with her Secret Service detail, including Allen Taylor, the agent first assigned to protect her in 2008. We meet her loyal stylist/consultant, Meredith Koop, who Obama says helped turn fashion into a useful tool “rather than being a victim of it.” (“Is it the style to have your belt so high now?” her brother asks when Obama gets ready to go onstage in an outfit with a fierce array of belt buckles. “I just asked!” he protests when the women in the room start to hiss at him.)

“Becoming” is least interesting when it adheres to the structure of Obama’s well-known biographical highlights; it is most interesting whenever she is in the company of trusted friends, family and colleagues — starting with her appealing mother, Marian Shields Robinson, and their visits to Craig’s home for a family lunch. (“Craig always has a good supply of wine — I love coming here and drinking his wine,” Marian declares, to which her indignant daughter replies, “I have wine, too.”) Or to the South Side Chicago house where Michelle and Craig were raised (and where most of the family’s well-worn furniture still sits, perhaps awaiting historic preservation).

“Becoming” is most memorable, however, as a chronicle of Obama’s interactions with the public, who stand in line for hours to get their copies of “Becoming” signed and, in turn, receive more than just a nod. They remain forever captivated by her, both as a person and as an ideal.

“Look them in the eye. Take in the story,” Obama says about these encounters, whether a book has been purchased or not. She sits in a circle of chairs with a group of teenage girls and offers unlimited encouragement. She sits with a group of black women at their church and together they compare notes on what Barack Obama’s presidency meant, both as a personal narrative and as history. In this sense, the footage seen in “Becoming” feels like it could be repurposed years from now into a longer, deeper and more complete documentary. The context is still evolving.

Obama is proud of her and her husband’s accomplishments and remorseful about the expressions of racism they endured the entire way. “My grandfather’s grandmother was in bondage — it’s important to keep that truth right there,” she says. “Barack and I were living with an awareness that we ourselves were a provocation.”

On the subject of today’s political climate, the high road is still taken, but the “Becoming” tour provides an opportunity for Obama to look at her audiences directly and lament the weaker turnout from black and female voters in the 2016 election (and the 2010 and 2014 midterms).

“I understand the people who voted for Trump,” she says. “But people who didn’t vote at all? . . . After all that work, they just couldn’t be bothered to vote, at all. That’s my trauma.”

Becoming (89 minutes) is available for streaming Wednesday on Netflix.