Beyond the Lights

Movie Review

By Raymond Jackson

Contributing Writer

It has been a while since I’ve seen and heard a Hollywood production with excellent and spectacular appeal. Beyond the Lights is bound to appeal to the young and the old, Black and White. It’s very versatile in its delivery.

It is written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, the same writer and director of Love & Basketball. She landed a winner in the starring role, Noni, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Mbatha-Raw is of British and South African decent and

Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker play a pop star and her bodyguard in Beyond the Lights. Photo courtesy of Relativity Media
Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker play a pop star and her bodyguard in Beyond the Lights.
Photo courtesy of Relativity Media

comes across very believable in her role as an upcoming superstar vocalist.

This movie is similar to The Bodyguard, which starred Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. Mbatha-Raw had a starring role in the British film Belle released earlier this year and now available on Blu-ray DVD. In Belle, Mbatha-Raw plays the daughter of a British Navy officer sent to be raised by the White side of her family.

Filming for Mbatha-Raw’s next motion picture, Blackbyrd, is finishing and set to be release this coming spring.

Beyond the Lights is a very entertaining drama about the downside of fame and fortune for those who are trying to maintain a normal life. When asked about her inspiration for such a role, Mbatha-Raw named Belle, Beyoncé, Prince, Marylyn Monroe, Rhianna and Billie Holiday as a few sources.

Beyond the Lights begins with Noni, a confused and despondent superstar vocalist trying to kill herself, when she is saved by co-star Nate Parker. Parker plays the role of Kaz, a police officer and wannabe politician who at the dinner table states, “Progress comes from those who are upset by what they have seen.”

He too is a newcomer on the Hollywood scene, and during an interview on the Wendy Williams Show he stated that the best thing that his mentor, Denzel Washington, said to him was something that Denzel’s mother told her son: “Man gives the awards; God gives the rewards.”

The cast of Beyond the Lights also includes Danny Glover as Katz’s father (Police Captain David Nicol), and Mini Driver as Gugu’s mother. This film tells a great love story and shows how life can become clouded and unreal through all the glitz and glamour of stardom. The choreography for Beyond the Lights was done by Lorraine Gibson, who did an excellent job.

Raymond Jackson welcomes reader responses to