Monday, November 24, 2014

[Review] Beyond the Lights

Beyond the Lights, Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball), is a story about a singer's turbulent bout with stardom. The film is savvy and observant enough to elevate it above Lifetime cheese.

Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is a Ciara-like R&B star, topping the Billboard charts, covering every magazine, and dating a popular rapper (played by actual rapper Machine Gun Kelly in what might be the worst performance of the year). Luckily, he doesn't have enough screen time to ruin things. Big Sean also makes an appearance, if you were wondering.

Anyway, it becomes clear that Noni is projecting an image she doesn't want to project and is caught in a lifestyle that she doesn't want part of. From her controlling mother manager (Minnie Driver), to her label execs--everyone around her manipulates and fabricates her public existence. After a concert, she attempts to jump out of her hotel window, and Kaz (Nate Parker), a security guard, witnesses the situation and prevents her from going. A complicated relationship begins between the two as they both face new conundrums.

Beyond the Lights delves into the darker and more shameful side of the entertainment industry in a very contemporary fashion, demonstrating the multitude of pressures one might face in the business, especially a woman. Mbatha-Raw, in a very different yet thematically similar role to this year's Belle, gives a fantastic performance. And Parker isn't too shabby either. Unfortunately, the film does get repetitive (and slow) along the way and loses its drama as it runs through the usual romance tropes, bottoming out before it reaches the end.


1 comment:

  1. A pity you didn't much care for the film. I haven't seen it yet, but I was recommended the soundtrack. Blackbird by Noni impressed me.