Beyond the Lights
BEYOND THE LIGHTS (12)
D: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Relativity Media/Homegrown/Undisputed Cinema (Stephanie Allain, Reggie Rock Bythewood, Ryan Kavanaugh, Amar'e Stoudemire & Sharon Tomlinson)
USA 🇺🇸 2014
W: Gina Prince-Bythewood
DP: Tami Reiker
Ed: Terilyn A. Shropshire
Mus: Mark Islam
Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Noni Jean), Nate Parker (Kaz Nicol), Minnie Driver (Macy Jean), Danny Glover (Capt. David Nicol), Machine Gun Kelly (Kid Culprit)
This small independent film from 2014 isn't without its flaws, but is certainly carried by two strong lead performances who make a very likeable on-screen couple.
The plot follows Noni Jean, a pop singer whose career is practically ruled by her overbearing mother. On the cusp of huge breakthrough success, she is saved from a suicide attempt by a young police officer with political aspirations and the two embark on a romantic relationship which could affect both of their professional journeys.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw really steals the show here with her breakthrough film performance, performing her own singing in a role which was tailored for her to keep her native British accent.
It does feel a little like a version of The Bodyguard for a younger, more modern audience, but it is quite well done and the performances make the characters realistic, even during the scenes which are a little unconvincing.
The overall theme about being true to oneself overrides the rather unrelatable one about the pressures of fame which occupy the first half of the movie.