Reviewed by: Brian C. Johnson
Does fame, fortune and adulation bring true happiness?
Can one find true happiness, without God, by following one’s own selfish desires? No, discover the good news that Jesus Christ offers
Be careful what you naively wish for.
pressures of new-found success
parents who push for their children’s success, partly for their own vicarious glory
finding your own voice
music in the Bible
If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer
My boyfriend wants to have sex. I don’t want to lose him. What should I do? Answer
How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer
|Featuring:||Gugu Mbatha-Raw … Noni
Nate Parker … Kaz
Minnie Driver … Macy Jean
Richard Colson Baker … Kid Culprit
Danny Glover … Captain Nicol
Darryl Stephens … Quentin
Elaine Tan … April
Isaac Keys … Jonas
Tyler Christopher … Liam King
Benito Martinez … Jesse Soria
Aisha Hinds … J Stanley
What do you do when you get everything you ever dreamed about—fame, fortune, and the promises of an even brighter future? Suicide is probably not your first response, but for Noni, a singer on the verge of superstardom, the idea of a life where she must be what everyone else wants her to be pushes her to the edge, literally. Kaz Nicol, the police officer assigned to protect her, rescues her and the two form a special bond that is misunderstood by most around them.
Neither Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) nor Kaz (Nate Parker—“The Great Debaters,” “Red Tails”) seem to have much control over their lives. Since childhood, Macy Jean (Minnie Driver), Noni’s manager-mother, has controlled Noni’s life and has brought her to the precipice of success. Kaz’s father, played by veteran actor Danny Glover, has his sights set on Kaz leaving the police force to run for public office. The unlikely duo, however, seek to define themselves for themselves, rather than be what everyone else wants them to be. They want to live by their own truths, but it appears unlikely, when others have so many plans for them. How can either truthfully explain the circumstances that brought them together, and how can they build a relationship that is based, at its foundation, upon a lie?
Written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (“The Secret Life of Bees,” “Love and Basketball”), “Beyond the Lights” is a fairy tale full of meaning. Kaz fancies quoting the words of famous celebrities; his favorite speaks about the importance of truth above all else. The two star-crossed lovers wrestle with the expectations of others—Noni, to be the sex symbol starlet and Kaz to be the next great community leader to uplift his people. Both seem to be obedient to their “calling,” but neither seems prepared to handle the pressures—except when they are together. Though tumultuous, their relationship seems to be exactly what the other needs to find the courage to stand.
Speaking of expectations, “Beyond the Lights” is a well-made movie. Sadly, it falls victim to living up to the expectations of the genre and its place in our culture. As can be expected of the story of a young female pop star, Noni must bare more than her fair share of skin to be acceptable to a sexuality-crazed culture. The film follows suit. Although shy of much of the overt nudity that we see in film today, “Beyond the Lights” certainly earns its PG-13 rating for “sexual content including suggestive gestures and partial nudity.” There is an extremely uncomfortable scene where Noni is performing onstage with her ex-lover where it appears he is prepared to rape her in front of a live audience—thankfully Kaz plays the hero again.
How should followers of Christ feel about public musical peformanaces that simulate sex? LUST—What does the Bible say about it?
There are some scenes of violence; Kaz is a police officer, so viewers are privy to scenes of his life, including Kaz intervening in a domestic violence situation. He also takes on the Noni’s ex when he disgraces her. Language, of course, is on par with this type of thematic material (see below).
The film is being marketed to teens and to adults, but I strongly caution parents to see it first before allowing their youth to view. Just because it is rated PG-13, does not make it safe or appropriate.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy—“Jesus,” OMG (5), “damn” (3), “hell” (6), f-word, s-word (dozen+), sexual slang, *ss (10) / Sex/Nudity: Very heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.