Friday, September 19, 2014

Beyond the Lights

Releases November 14th, 2014 (Limited)
1 hr 56 mins
Rated PG-13


Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood


Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Noni Jean
Minnie Driver as Macy Jean
Nate Parker as Kaz Nicol
Danny Glover as Captain David Nicol
Machine Gun Kelly as Kid Culprit
Jordan Belfi as Steve Sams
Hayley Marie Norman as Shai
Tom Wright as Reverend Brown
Jesse Woodrow as Carl

Review by Stephen M.

Beyond the Lights opened the 2014 Urbanworld Film Festival last night with much anticipation.  Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays Noni Jean, a superstar singer who is cracking under the stress of her overbearing mom and the expectations from her record label.  Her fate changes dramatically in one night as she attempts to commit suicide but is saved by officer Kaz Nicol (Nate Parker) who is assigned to guard her hotel room.

What you will enjoy most about the film is the soundtrack.  The music is just amazing, which is what you would hope for in a movie about a musician.  The actors and actresses does a phenomenal job in the movie from Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker to Danny Glover.  My two stand outs for the film would have to be Minnie Driver who plays Noni's Mom, Nancy and Machine Gun Kelly who plays Kid Culprit, Noni's label mate and boyfriend.  Minnie's intensity and MGK's charisma brings both these characters to the forefront for me.

What I did not like about the film is the uneven pacing especially shortly after Noni and Kaz meets.  The pace drags quite a bit and the direction is as lost as Noni is with herself.  During this period, the romance feels rush as Noni literally throws herself at Kaz after having just trying to throw herself off a balcony.  The Director redeems herself in the latter half of the movie with more realistic scenes as the couple gets away and builds up toward the finale.

Overall, I would recommend this film especially if you are into this genre.  The story is deep and touching as Noni and Kaz each struggled to find their own voice and not just their parents'.  But as I mentioned, the film is a bit long in the tooth and could have benefited from tighter editing especially during the middle of the film.  The film contains some adult situations and thus I would not recommend for young teens and below.


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