This is my first movie review. I’m not proclaiming to be Siskel or Ebert. I may be more like one of the guys in the balcony on The Muppet show; nevertheless, a spur of the moment date with my wife led us to the movies where we watched the much-anticipated Beyond the Lights directed by Gina Prince-Blythewood (Love and Basketball).
This is a story of the lives of two young people born on different sides of the pond. Noni Jean(Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a bi-racial girl from London who at a young age had a love for songs with soul, particularly Blackbird by Nina Simone , and had the voice to perform them. Ironically the original title for the movie was Blackbird. Kazzam Nichol (Nate Parker) is an African American policeman for the LAPD. He is a well-disciplined individual who embraces quotes from various sources to shape his moral code.
Both live different life styles, yet their lives are the same. Both are struggling with pressures of living the lives that their parents have laid out for them. Noni’s mother/manager, portrayed by Minnie Driver, has total control over her life and does not acknowledge any obstacle that could stand in the way of her daughter becoming a star. Kazzam (Kaz) is following a plan laid out by his father, Danny Glover, to enter the political arena. Furthermore, his father is a captain with LAPD as well.
Noni and Kaz’s lives collide on what would seemingly be the greatest night of Noni’s life. Kaz fills in for another officer as security outside of Noni’s room. Noni returns to her room after winning 3 Billboard music awards. Coincidentally, it is the eve of the day her debut CD will drop. A scream from inside the room catches Kaz’s attention. Once inside when he finds her mother standing at the balcony door petrified and Noni sitting on the balcony railing, obviously despondent. His attempt to talk her down is unsuccessful; however, he catches her stopping her fatal plunge. Noni realizes that dying is not what she wants. She accepts his help and climbs back onto the balcony. After a press conference dismissing what fans perceived as a suicide attempt, Kaz was thrust into the limelight as a hero.
Cupid’s arrows did not immediately inoculate these two. Eventually a relationship blossoms between the two. The two lean on each other through the crisis in each other’s life. Through each other they have moments of clarity and realize that they have to live their lives for themselves and not their parents.
The story line touches on many issues that are society are dealing with such as: the sexual exploitation of women by people who are close to them; the lack of support for people who attempt suicide; and the unwillingness of so called “black leaders” to support younger people who are trying to get involved in the community on higher level.
The big question is, was it worth the $8 matinee? Yes it was! The movie is not a tearjerker and the sexual implications of the movie kicked it out of qualifying as a chick-flick. It is the perfect date night movie. Academy Award nominations are doubtful, but if you want to see a movie, beyond the lights is a safe bet. Spoiler alert!!! Chandelier by Sia IS NOT part of the movie soundtrack. However, it did make the trailer more appealing.