NEW YORK (CNS) — Though obviously well-intended, the romantic drama “Beyond the Lights” (Relativity) includes elements that make it problematic even for grown viewers.
In large part, that’s a result of the milieu in which the film is set: the vulgarity-soaked world of rap music.
As a rising star within the genre, British born singer Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) seems to have everything going for her: clamoring fans, industry awards and an upcoming album that promises to be a blockbuster. Behind the scenes, however, Noni is so burnt-out and miserable that she attempts to commit suicide by jumping from the balcony of her luxurious Los Angeles hotel.
She’s prevented from doing so by the soothing intervention of Kaz (Nate Parker), the policeman assigned to protect her. He gives her back the will to live by assuring her that he can see the real person behind her public persona. In the wake of this dramatic first meeting, the cocooned diva and the solitary cop — who aspires to become a politician — take a somewhat unlikely shine to each other.
Their budding relationship is opposed by Noni’s success-at-all-costs showbiz mom, Macy (Minnie Driver), and by callous singer Kid Culprit — played by real-life rapper Richard Colson Baker, aka Machine Gun Kelly — who is both Noni’s collaborator and her lover.
A sadly realistic atmosphere of degraded sensuality pervades the musical performances in writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s movie, though the story arc eventually finds Noni rebelling against this aspect of her career.
Additionally, the script takes going to bed before strolling down the aisle for granted. Thus Noni and Kaz have a somewhat bizarre encounter on a private plane within days of meeting each other. They later skip town and drop out of sight for an interlude of living together that the narrative unabashedly romanticizes.
Yet their story does have its appealing aspects, including the positive mutual support that generally marks their interaction. Kaz encourages Noni’s ambition to write her own songs and perform more serious material in the mold of jazz icon Nina Simone. Noni, in turn, helps Kaz to recognize that he can’t live his life according to the dictates of his good-hearted but controlling dad, David (Danny Glover).
The film contains brief semi-graphic premarital sexual activity, temporary cohabitation, partial nudity, much strongly suggestive behavior, and considerable crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103