Kernel Rating (out of 5):
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Length: 116 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 14+. The film is largely a critique of the oppressive female sexualization of pop music, but that still means that a lot of sexy stuff is happening: scantily clad women suggestively dancing, thrusting, and rolling around during music videos, performances, and photo shoots; a few different kissing and sex scenes, not with nudity but with suggestive situations; and some cursing, fistfights, emotionally abusive parenting, and derogatory terms for women.
‘Beyond the Lights’ has two storylines going on: an unlikely romance between an on-the-cusp pop star and an on-the-cusp politician, and a simultaneous critique of both pop music and politics. But uneven attention to the two main characters undermines the film’s good intentions.
By Roxana Hadadi
Gugu Mbatha-Raw was fantastic in this summer’s “Belle,” and to watch her in “Beyond the Lights” is another delight. The kind of performer who oozes emotion and expression, Mbatha-Raw is fragile, fiery, and ultimately sympathetic in “Beyond the Lights,” in which she plays a damaged up-and-coming pop star struggling to reconcile her identity with the sexualization of women in the hip-hop genre. But her character, and the film overall, are ultimately underwritten, and feel more like a retread of other romances like “Titanic” than anything wholly original.