“Do you want to be a runner up, or do you want to be a winner?” said Macy Jean to her little blackbird.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw really is the main reason I watched Beyond the Lights. There had been an ample of praises of her performance in this film ever since the end of 2014; the thing is, I hadn’t even witnessed any of her performance but a small role in Odd Thomas. Simply, it’s a necessary step she took for her career—to portray a fictional young singer, a rising star, Noni Jean, along with her layered problem.
The story practically started when the star, Noni, attempted to commit suicide; before a young cop, Kaz (Nate Parker) saved her from her own demise. From that point, Beyond the Lights started to reveal other problems in a series of chain reactions that, mostly, went cliche, but developed well.
It finally is a genre-cliched romance with some modern pop music attached to it; yet, it’s too premature to call it a musical drama. There’s a social-gap romance and a bitter behind-the-stage drama of a rising star, yet, what attracted me most is, the mother-daughter relationship drama, which always went bitter and harsh.
There’s a sense of ambition and obsession; and that’s horrible. The filmmakers realized this potential—confronting Gugu Mbatha-Raw with Minnie Driver with her jaw-dropping performance as a dictating mother. Not only that the young actress finally shone in emanating the depression of a dictated star, but, the sore of this broken relationship went very personal and emotional. That’s a true wrap of the film, even compared to the OST as a film about music industry.
I believe, without Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s stellar performance, Beyond the Lights was nothing but a mediocre film with mediocre cliche. Yet, it’s worth an appreciation that her one-man show finally lifted up the whole film.
VERDICT: Built upon a harsh mother-daughter relationship drama, this modern fairy tale is only good for Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s stellar performance.
Beyond the Lights (2014)
Drama, Music Written & Directed by: Gina Prince-Bythewood Starred by: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker, Minnie Driver, Machine Gun Kelly Running Time: 116 mins Rated PG-13 for sexual content including suggestive gestures, partial nudity, language and thematic elements