Despite the disappointing box office receipts for opening weekend, grossing only $6.5 million, Beyond The Lights did manage to win over critics earning the prestigious “A” grade from box office aggregator CinemaScore, which is well deserved.
Rarely does Hollywood place it’s money on a romantic drama with Black actors as it’s stars. For that reason alone, “Beyond the Lights” is special. Go see it! However, what takes this movie to the level of extraordinary is the way the story is written and told by writer/director Gina Price-Bythewood. The story centers around Noni Jean, magnificently played by Hollywood new comer, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, (watch her), the bi racial product of what appears to be a one night stand by her overbearing music business “Momager”, Macy Jean (Minnie Driver). As Noni Jean is on the edge of achieving super-stardom she is driven to the brink and rescued by a truth and justice seeking LA Police officer, Kaz Nicol (Nate Parker).
On the surface, the story seems like, “another one of them”. It isn’t. The acting by the entire cast, which includes Danny Glover as Nate Parker’s Dad, is superb. Moreover, Mrs. Price-Bythewood touches on issues like race, family, class, suicide, over bearing parents, today’s music business constant manufacturing of stars, along with an array of other issues no one wants to discuss. Her pacing and how she handles these delicate issues is first class. However, the most enjoyable aspect of the movie is the romance. The chemistry between Mbatha-Raw and Parker, who chooses his roles wisely and consistently gives great performances, is electric and incredible to watch.
Seldom do we see on screen romance and passion between a Black man and woman in a drama. The Black man playing the role of the lover, protector and nurturer of the love, romance and woman in film is scarce. “Beyond the Lights” wonderfully fills that void. Gina Price-Bythewood has done a masterful job at telling a story where the Black man and woman finally win one, together. All in the name of love. For this, I salute you and this movie. I enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you. Check out the trailer below …