Beyond the Lights (2014)
Critic Consensus: Thanks to smart direction and a powerhouse performance from Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Beyond the Lights transcends its formulaic storyline to deliver thoroughly entertaining drama.
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Critic Reviews for Beyond the Lights
In every scene here, Prince-Bythewood calmly and sensitively melts our resistance to the outlandish, outsized quality of her plot and stays true to the message she wants to deliver without ever getting pious or preachy.
Has the elements of a classic backstage story, but they don't quite crystallize into an integral drama.
It's a movie about a rising superstar that features two of them-Mbatha-Raw and Parker, both enormously appealing, impossibly attractive performers with big futures ahead of them.
"Beyond the Lights" is a faint shadow of 1992's "The Bodyguard," without the star power of Whitney Houston or Kevin Costner.
Director Prince-Bythewood, who made the move from television to the big-screen in 2000 with the terrific romance Love and Basketball has a way with actors.
Audience Reviews for Beyond the Lights
In the US this was released a few months after Belle also starring up-and-coming young actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Her indie cred seemed strong, so my wife and I caught this in mid-2015 on Netflix. Gina Prince-Bythewood writes and directs for a talented ensemble. The story is a pretty standard one about the pressures of fame and I was disappointed that it falls into an extremely traditional romance plot.
A cop saves the life of a suicidal rising star, and they begin a frowned-upon romance. While the film's heart is in the right place and its depiction of the music world is a well-aimed barb, there is something off about the pace and plot of this film. It is essentially an emotional, over-wrought scene followed by a montage, followed by an emotional, over-wrought scene, and the plot points of the romance are awfully quick and - you guessed it - over-wrought. The characters jump to conclusions that no real, reasonable lovers would reach, and when the plot calls for a sincere moment, the film settles for a montage that doesn't reveal enough about their journey. Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker are acceptable in their roles, but in their tender scenes together, there's something insouciant about much of their acting, as though the characters they create aren't making real and vital decisions. Overall, Beyond the Lights would have benefited from reworking its plot and stronger performances.
Striking just the right amount of emotion without being too sappy, "Beyond the Lights" tells the story of a pop-star submerged in stardom, with no freedom from her mother, as she tries to grasp the concept of true love and reality. Fame can be hard, and this film explores both that and the ideal of a happy life without it. I absolutely loved how this film as executed, and it;s smart script isolates itself from any cliched story that may be similar to it. It distances itself from the predictable story you think it will be and opens your mind. "Beyond the Lights" helms a breakout star performance, a great script, anice balance of terrible and good music, and I thoroughly believe that this is a fantastic film that could have failed miserably. Overall, I highly recommend this film, especially to those who are skeptical or have no idea what it is.