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73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics What's this?

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7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 22 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , , ,
  • Summary: The pressures of fame have music superstar Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) on the edge - until she meets Kaz Nicol (Nate Parker), a young cop and aspiring politician who has been assigned to her detail. Drawn to each other, Noni and Kaz fall fast and hard, despite the protests of those around themThe pressures of fame have music superstar Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) on the edge - until she meets Kaz Nicol (Nate Parker), a young cop and aspiring politician who has been assigned to her detail. Drawn to each other, Noni and Kaz fall fast and hard, despite the protests of those around them who urge them to put their career ambitions ahead of their romance. But it is ultimately Kaz's love that gives Noni the courage to find her own voice and break free to become the artist she was meant to be. Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. Reviewed by: Odie Henderson
    Nov 14, 2014
    100
    Beyond the Lights makes unapologetically damning statements about the music industry’s treatment of women, yet it never feels preachy. It strikes a risky, though successful balancing act between being immensely entertaining as a musical feature and making dramatic, important statements about depression, self-worth and female empowerment.
  2. Reviewed by: William Goss
    Nov 19, 2014
    89
    The relative restraint of Beyond the Lights is practically a godsend, presenting audiences with a fairy tale grounded in something resembling reality and fractured by external circumstance as much as internal doubts.
  3. Reviewed by: Gregory Ellwood
    Sep 10, 2014
    83
    Mbatha-Raw is shockingly good in creating both the "Noni" public persona and the real Noni.
  4. Reviewed by: Kevin C. Johnson
    Nov 13, 2014
    75
    Mbatha-Raw continues to be a true revelation in a role that could be not be any more different from her star turn in “Belle” this year.
  5. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Dec 15, 2014
    70
    Even when Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball) tries to pack too much around the edges (including critiques of record-industry sexism and the mechanisms of black political fundraising), the romance at the movie’s center remains credible and vibrant.
  6. Reviewed by: Geoff Berkshire
    Sep 10, 2014
    70
    Beyond the Lights is a strange beast, a music-industry romance that alternates freely between wisdom and mawkishness, caustic entertainment-biz critique and naive wish fulfillment, heartfelt flourishes and soap-opera shenanigans.
  7. Reviewed by: Stephen Whitty
    Nov 14, 2014
    42
    The people are pretty, the music scenes are well-staged (they're supposed to be crude and corny, right?) and we've needed a silly romance for a while now. But for all its hugs and kisses, the film refuses to embrace itself.

See all 25 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 1 out of 6
  1. Dec 2, 2014
    9
    First and foremost, "Beyond the Lights" is a sweet love story. Like "Love & Basketball" before, in "Beyond the Lights," Gina Prince-BythewoodFirst and foremost, "Beyond the Lights" is a sweet love story. Like "Love & Basketball" before, in "Beyond the Lights," Gina Prince-Bythewood uses a love story to make a comment on the role of women in the world. In "Love & Basketball" she was essentially commenting on the impact on women of Title IX. In "Beyond the Lights" she uses the Noni Jean character to comment on the media's objectification of women (specifically women of color) and how to some degree women help perpetuate it. She makes these comments without being heavy handed or preachy. Once again Gugu Mbatha-Raw (who was recently seen in "Belle") gives a solid performance. The perfect date movie. Expand
  2. Nov 24, 2014
    8
    Rhianna meets morals! If you want to see what drove Britney Spears to her downward spiral and made Miley 'the Twerk' Cyrus an overniteRhianna meets morals! If you want to see what drove Britney Spears to her downward spiral and made Miley 'the Twerk' Cyrus an overnite sensation then this will suffice. Far from being an ethnic film, its a complicated romance that meets nite and day. All about growing the hell up. Expand
  3. Nov 14, 2014
    7
    On May 16, 2014, I saw and wrote a review of a movie called “Belle” and ended it with “THIS IS A MUST SEE MOVIE AND YOU MUST SEE GUGUOn May 16, 2014, I saw and wrote a review of a movie called “Belle” and ended it with “THIS IS A MUST SEE MOVIE AND YOU MUST SEE GUGU MBATHA-RAW!”

    And it is still on my list of 5 of the best movies of the about 50 I have seen this year!

    Today, 6 months later, I saw “Beyond The Lights” and the bottom line is THIS IS A MUST SEE MOVIE AND YOU MUST SEE GUGU MBATHA-RAW! (Also Nate Parker and Minnie Driver but more about that later.)

    Unless you have never seen a show business movie there isn’t a spoiler in this movie as screenwriter Gina Prince-Bythewood has written every cliché into it from the overbearing stage mother. the super star rapper who mistreats the rising star, the record producer who manipulates her and to the boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl plot. The differences are that the screenwriter is also the director who really believes in the material and performances that lift it above the clichés. Prince-Bythewood makes this a good old romance movie that we haven’t seen in awhile.

    Let’s start with Gugu Mbatha-Raw who takes a role completely opposite that of the one who played Belle in the movie of that name. She is in sexy, almost not there, outfits showing off a great figure, does choreography that show of her sexuality, sings rap and a Nina Simone song, “Blackbird”, that shows off a vocal ability she could make a living at and, yes, her acting. She takes the role of a wounded bird who learns to fly free and makes it fresh and new.

    Her costar Nate Parker, as police officer, Kaz, with a police captain father, played by Danny Glover, who is grooming him to enter politics with unlimited potential, shares a chemistry with Mbatha-Raw that lights up the screen. They make a good old fashioned screen couple that makes you root for them all the way, not to mention they are both very sexy looking people.

    Minnie Driver as the stage mother, who can be overbearing, does such a fine job she almost steals the picture and keeps you on her side even though you know and can see the damage she has done her daughter.

    Colson ‘MGK’ Baker as the super star rapper, with more tattoos than I have ever seen on an actor, along with the rest of the cast such as India Jean-Jacques, Benito Martinez, Aml Ameen and Aisha Hinds, along with others support, the stars with first class performances.

    The soundtrack featuring new songs, will also introduce Nina Simone to a new generation though I wished they had her singing a couple of songs.

    Though this won’t be among my top 5 pictures to see I will end it with YOU MUST SEE GUGU MBATHA-RAW and see it on the big screen!
    Expand
  4. Dec 16, 2014
    6
    Beyond the Lights wants to be this generation's The Bodyguard - that music-heavy romance between two unlikely people that may or may not beBeyond the Lights wants to be this generation's The Bodyguard - that music-heavy romance between two unlikely people that may or may not be destined for greater love. It even has the potential to be better than that. With issues ranging from suicide to self-image, and from misogyny in rap to mixed-race relationships, and from paparazzi to politics, the film is positioned to go to greater depths in any of these areas in an effort to tell a better story. Instead, it prefers to wallow in shallow gloss of the imagery its own subject falls victim to. Expand
  5. Nov 26, 2014
    6
    Unlike the typical "Star is Born" framework, this film starts as the young singer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is already tormented by her fame. It's notUnlike the typical "Star is Born" framework, this film starts as the young singer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is already tormented by her fame. It's not a music industry plot at all, but a love drama about her attraction to a young cop (Nate Parker), who was assigned to protect her. Mbatha-Raw (best known as the black beauty in "Belle") takes on a very different role as this Rhiana-type sexy singer and she's completely compelling, not to mention she can sing! Parker has plenty of leading man charm (not to mention that body). The story starts with music biz glamor, but the slowly turns into a romance. Luckily, the actors handle it well, even as it deteriorates into predictable mush. Expand
  6. Nov 16, 2014
    3
    Could play well on MTV. I found it to be profoundly cheesy and clichéd when I saw it at TIFF. It had its moments with Gugu Mbatha-Raw in theCould play well on MTV. I found it to be profoundly cheesy and clichéd when I saw it at TIFF. It had its moments with Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the lead role, but the glitz of fame doesn't look good on this movie. Expand

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