Beyond The Lights: Rated “PG-13“ (1 hour, 56 minutes)
Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker, Minnie Driver, Machine Gun Kelly, Danny Glover
Directed by: Gina Prince-Bythewood
If you are looking for a good date flick, you would do well to check out Beyond the Lights, is a musical romantic drama that charts the meteoric rise of Noni (Mbatha-Raw), the music world’s latest superstar (who has managed to win a Billboard Award without yet having dropped an album). However, unfortunately for Noni — as is usually the case with young stars who rocket to fame — everything is not quite all is as it seems. As we’ve learned, her mother has been driving her to succeed since a very young age, and these days, even as she approaches the top of her game the pressures of fame have Noni on the edge — quite literally, as her mother finds her out on the edge of a hotel balcony apparently ready to leap off the edge, until she is pulled back in by officer Kaz Nicol (Parker), a young cop who’s been assigned to her detail.
In the moment he rescues her, there is an immediate connection between the two, and they are subsequently drawn to each other. Noni (who is drop-dead gorgeous) and Kaz (who is all smoothness, quite resolve and muscles), fall hard and fast for each other, despite the fact that that they are so clearly from different worlds and over the very vocal protests of those around them (her mom and his father (Glover) who is also a cop). Both are strongly urged to put their respective career ambitions ahead of their romance (After his heroic actions, Kas is tapped by some local politicians to parlay his newfound fame into a run for office).
Ultimately, however, it is Kaz’s love for her that eventually gives Noni the courage to find her own voice and break free to become the artist she was meant to become. So, yeah this is something of a traditional love story set against the backdrop of the LA music scene, but it is well-acted, well-written, and backed up by a very engaging soundtrack. Noni’s backstory is also interesting in that it (somewhat) mirrors Mbatha-Raw’s own story of growing up with a single mom in Britain.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.