Beyond the Lights is nothing like its trailer, and that’s a good thing. I wrote off seeing it because the previews led me to believe it would be a watered down, sappy version of The Bodyguard. I decided to give it a chance after reading some surprising reviews on Twitter, and I’m glad I did.
Underneath the syrupy love story between Noni Jean (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Kaz Nicol (Nate Parker), the film explores more complex themes like mental health issues, complicated family dynamics, sexism, race, and self-actualization. Though Noni, an exploited pop star, and Kaz, the hero cop who tries to save her from herself, have very different lifestyles, they both struggle with overbearing parents who live vicariously through their adult children. It’s this story that didn’t make the cut in the previews. It’s this story that makes Beyond the Lights a special movie.
I wish I didn’t judge this story by its cover, and had gone to see it earlier.