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Beyond the Lights: Film Review

Updated on August 11, 2015

Beyond the Lights



Why you wanna fly Blackbird you ain't ever gonna fly
No place big enough for holding all the tears you're gonna cry
Cos your mama's name was lonely and your daddy's name was pain
And they call you little sorrow cos you'll never love again

So why you wanna fly Blackbird you ain't ever gonna fly
You ain't got no one to hold you, you ain't got no one to care
If you'd only understand dear nobody wants you anywhere
So why you wanna fly Blackbird you ain't ever gonna fly

-Nina Simone

Opening weekend, I chose to catch a matinee of the new film Beyond the Lights. Always making sure I'm on time, I was met by some interesting and a few intriguing previews. Coming to a theatre near you are, of course, The Hunger Games' latest film, Selma (a story of the march in Selma, Alabama led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr), The Boy Next Door (starring Jennifer Lopez and Hill Harper), and Focus starring the one and only Will Smith (in a role that we haven't yet seen him play). There were a few other previews that I'm sure will be hitting a television screen, billboard or radio promo near you soon. Feel free to look up these trailers if you are interested.

It's been a while since Gina Prince-Bythewood has pulled on our heartstrings. Her storytelling first captivated me in my teens, when I was nothing but a basketball-crazed teenager. Love & Basketball had my teammates and I flying high once upon a time; hoping that we too could find our love interest on the shiny and competitive floor of the basketball court. Similar to how Prince-Bythewood had everyone stepping into the souls of her characters in previous films, she has you falling hard for the hearts of her new characters, Noni and Kaz. Now, you know I'm not hear to give away the story but I want to help introduce you to the film; like a literary trailer.

Gina Prince-Bythewood, Nate Parker and Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Gina Prince-Bythewood, Nate Parker and Gugu Mbatha-Raw | Source

Almost Doesn't Count

Many people still don't get the struggle that people of color have in the entertainment industry; not only do some not get it but the ones who know still choose to turn a blind eye. Beyond the Lights almost wasn't made but thank goodness almost doesn't count. Prince-Bythewood held strong to what she believed in; her story, her actors and her truth. Below Gina tells us a little bit about what she had to go through to get this film made.

Meet the Characters

Noni Jean (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Kaz (Nate Parker) are two young people who have their own voice and their own way of delivery but find themselves being stifled by those around them. Noni is blessed with the gift of song and has something to say but is told that her gift can only be used one way and what she has to say no one wants to hear. "Noni, do you want to be a runner-up or do you want to be a winner?" Kaz just wants to make a difference in the world but is being pushed down a road by others who keep telling him this road is the best one to take. When these two come together they see they have so much to offer each other and by sticking together, they have so much to offer the world. Kaz believes that "Truth is the only safe ground to stand upon."

This film is far from short in star-studded appearances. Danny Glover plays Captain Nicol, Kaz's father, Minnie Driver plays Noni's mother, Chaka Khan and Rosci show their beautiful faces and even BET's own Debra Lee had a part to play. CBS, CNN and President Obama got in a few plugs as well (way to sign those waivers guys!).

In Theaters Now

Beyond the Lights hit theaters around the country November 14, 2014 and is at a theater near you (hopefully). Take the time to treat yourself to a feel good movie that will leave you feeling inspired and full of love. Let's support everyone who put in such hard work into getting this film made. After you see it, come back and tell me what you thought!

Will You Go See This Film?

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If you saw the film, did you enjoy it?

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      courtney 3 years ago

      I loves the movie i was arraun it would get a lil ghetto at some point but the story line was really good! And the factors and actresses Did a great job!

    • profile image

      edlyn5 3 years ago

      So many good parts and some listed already, so here goes...

      - meeting Felicia who helped her own her hair

      - taking Kaz on a mile high experience

      - sharing her verses with Kaz

      - I see you!

      - stripping down to the real Noni in Mexico

      - finding her real voice in Mexico

      - stepping up to fire her Mom

      - going home to do things her way

    • profile image

      iman 3 years ago

      My favorite part is at the end when she is performing her own black bird song version in her hometown. I thought it was nice. I got teary at the end!

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      Stylicia 3 years ago

      I could relate to this film in certain aspects. It truly touched my heart!

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      Erica 3 years ago

      Amazing! One of my favorite movies of all time now!

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      Melody Lanei 3 years ago from Queens, New York

      Okay! FIRED! lol

    • profile image

      Kacey 3 years ago

      Great Movie!!! Loved the when Noni found her voice and told her mother how she felt..

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      Jonna 3 years ago

      greatest part was when she came around the corner of the hotel they got away in, with natural hair stripped from the false purple tracks!

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      Scout Wampler 3 years ago

      Such an amazing movie!! I really loved when she went back to her roots!