July 30, 2018
Great movie for most teens
This is an amazing and inspiring movie! It says the truth, and fame isn't always what it seems. There is partial nudity, swearing, and brief violence (such as punching), however. It isn't appropriate for children under the age of 14 though.
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April 8, 2016
Good Movie, Mixed Messages
Good movie mixed messages, sexually explicit for younger audience would not recommended for 12 and up probably mature 15 and up
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December 11, 2014
A step above the typical "fame isn't always that great" tale.
I really hope that Gugu Mbatha-Raw becomes a full-on star. She was terrific in Belle, and now she cements her genuine talent in Beyond the Lights. I'm also happy to say that it isn't a movie where the actors are the only thing of quality. Movies about celebrity life are very likely to run the risk of being idealized emotion porn. Luckily enough, Gina Prince-Bythewood has a steady hand when it comes to directing, even if her screenwriting may not be as consistent. Mbatha-Raw was the real reason that I was interested in this movie originally, but at least the filmmaking is of quality. The script has interesting ideas that are both timeless and timely: the fame-isn't-all-that-great concept has been around for a while, and the subtle integration of both social media and celebrity news journalism feels current, but never overkill. We see a young star get hounded by paparazzi, receive hate on Twitter, and be objectified through music videos and thoroughly uncomfortable photo shoots. The themes and scope almost remind me of a Sofia Coppola film (which is absolutely a compliment), but with everything a less understated or intentionally repetitive. The pacing is strong; despite being about 15 minutes too long from a writing standpoint, I was never bored. It's mainly in the second half that the movie changes both location and tone for about 20 minutes, switching from a focusing on one character to one character and her love interest. While that section of the movie does have some genuine and beautiful moments, it doesn't quite mesh well with its proceeding. The direction, however, is what makes it work more than it should. In terms of specific critiques that only film geeks would notice, the movie oddly uses handheld camerawork for a lot of its runtime. I first thought that it was originally to mimic the sort of tabloid cameras that our protagonist is constantly being following by, but this style is used at many times that wouldn't benefit from it. Also, sound mixing on one minor character's dialogue was really off for some reason whenever he talked. Maybe it was because of his gravelly voice, but the ambient noise around him also rises when he talks. All in all, Beyond the Lights is a refreshingly well-made drama. It's nice to see a movie avoid its emotional clichéd and trappings, and having its main actress actually be extremely talented and have the ability to convey nuance perfectly as opposed to just fluttering their eyes and making quiet gasping noises. Even if this isn't remarkable or particularly memorable and has its flaws, it is thoroughly engaging and emotionally honest. 7.6/10, good, one thumb up, above average, etc.