The Paw Print
Gina Prince-Bythewood has outdone herself with her 2014 drama and romance film “Beyond the Lights.” Singer Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) has been groomed to be in the spotlight by her domineering mother (Minnie Driver). Noni is having a difficult time struggling from low self-esteem with being in the spotlight and her raving success. After winning the Billboard Music Award for a top hit song she performs in, she heads back to her hotel and tries to jump off a balcony. Luckily the policeman assigned as her bodyguard, Kaz (Nate Parker), saves her from her suicide attempt. To everyone’s surprise, including their own, they become very close and start a remarkable romance.
Kaz, an L.A. police officer who was assigned to stand outside Noni’s hotel room, has political ambitions of running for the local political office. He heard a commotion and he entered the room to see if he could help. He found Noni sitting on the edge of her hotel room balcony getting ready to let go. Kaz starts to talk her down but she lets go anyways. Kaz was fast enough and he grabbed her as she went over the ledge. As Kaz pulls Noni back up he tells her “I see you.” Soon after she is pulled to safety, assistants are swarming around for damage control. Kaz is pulled aside by a fellow officer and bribed to lie at a press conference claiming that Noni simply slipped, and their story begins. Kaz and Noni start a steamy romance and also awakens the self-worth that has been lacking throughout her life thanks to her pushy mom/manager.
Both Noni’s mother and Kaz’s father don’t believe the romance will come to anything or last long. However, their romance lasts and eventually they run away to a little town in Mexico where no one knows about Noni and her huge musical career. A few days into the trip Noni takes out her purple hair extensions and goes with her more natural look with short curly hair. She is starting to open up to her inner self and who she was born to be, which is a really moving scene. While in Mexico, she goes on a stage and sings Nina Simone’s “Blackbird” which was so full of anguish and pain. This is the turning point in the movie where she finally finds her true self.
“Beyond the Lights” is an impressive movie combining music, romance, and drama that speaks about strong female empowerment. This movie will speak from young girls to woman about standing up for the life you feel you deserve. It is a remarkable journey of a young woman trying to find her true self. Noni undergoes a metamorphosis, both physical and musical. Rather than having Noni have a righteous speech about how she was exploited and how she has changed her ways, Prince-Bythewood is able to show Noni’s exploitation through her sexual photo shoots and music videos. Noni then shows her transformation through taking out her hair weave, singing the music she loves, and standing up to her domineering mother.