Romantic dramas seem to be few and far between these days. So it's both refreshing and encouraging to see one as good as Gina Prince-Bythewood's Beyond the Lights.
It's an area she has mined in the past, in films like Love & Basketball and The Secret Life of Bees. She finds ways to explore other ideas -- personal identity, the struggle to maintain integrity in a pragmatic world -- and uses those themes to create conflict in her relationships.
On the surface, Beyond the Lights is about the unlikely romance between an L.A. cop named Kaz (Nate Parker) and a rising British pop star named Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). They meet when he subs for a pal doing private security work and winds up saving her from a suicide dive off her hotel balcony.
Her stage-mother manager (Minnie Driver) wants to pass it off as a drunken misadventure but Kaz is concerned that Noni has emotional problems her mother is ignoring. When he checks in on her, she responds to the attention by pulling him into her world for a whirlwind romance.
This review continues on my website.