Beyond the Lights


Main Plot Points:

  • Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is the music world’s latest superstar, but the pressures of fame have her on the edge… until she meets Kaz (Nate Parker), a handsome young cop with political ambitions who’s been assigned to protect her.
  • Drawn to each other, Noni and Kaz fall fast and hard, despite the protests of Noni’s mother (Minnie Driver) and Kaz’s father (Danny Glover).
  • But Kaz’s love might be the missing piece that gives Noni the courage to find her own voice and break free to become the artist she was meant to be.

What We Thought:

  • The trailer for Beyond the Lights would have you believe that it’s a sexy, hip-hop fueled Glitter 2.0. Instead, what it really turns out to be is a Nicholas Sparks movie set in the world of hip hop music. It’s sweet and sentimental and has a definite message to send. And it’s not bad at all.
  • The story of a music starlet who is succumbing to the pressures of stardom, only to be saved by the love of an earnest policeman, Beyond the Lights starts off filled with brash, shiny lights and loud, thumping music. But before long, its all tender kisses, shared moments, and earnest speeches.
  • What makes the film work, however, is the star-making performance by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who I’ve been a fan of for a few years now. She’s utterly fantastic, and makes you care about a character in a film filled with cliches.
  • The supporting cast is solid as well, especially Minnie Driver as the stage mom from hell. It’s nice to see Danny Glover show up as well. Nate Parker is a bit stiff in the male lead role, but that fits his character.
  • Beyond the Lights is nothing groundbreaking or original, but it’s a far cry better than dreck like Glitter. Worth a look, but mostly for fans of romance movies. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is anything but.

Special Features:

  • Commentary by Filmmakers Gina Prince-Bythewood, Tami Reiker & Terilyn Shroshire
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Filmmakers
  • Director’s Cut
  • “Escape to Mexico 2.0”
  • “Changing the Conversation”
  • Gary Theard: Boom Man
  • “Masterpiece” Music Video

Notable Cast & Crew:

  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw
  • Nate Parker
  • Aisha Hinds
  • Minnie Driver
  • Danny Glover

Recommended if You Like:

  • Nicholas Sparks movies
  • Sweet romances
  • Star-making turns