Beyond the Lights (2014)

Built upon a harsh mother-daughter relationship drama, this modern fairy tale is only good for Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s stellar performance.

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


6 comments on “Beyond the Lights (2014)

  1. The film itself isn’t great, but Gugu delivers one of the best performances of the year, easily, and lifts the film, as you say, to a better place. Driver is also pretty great here. I can’t wait to see where Gugu’s career takes her!

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