July 4th, 2015

silent sigh

Movie Rec: Beyond the Lights

So you probably haven't heard of this movie, because I hadn't heard of it either. But Beyond the Lights is a show-biz romance movie, and despite how terrible it sounds on paper, it's actually rather good. (You can find it on Netflix and/or on Amazon. Amazon has it at 99 cents to rent!)

Here's the synopsis: Fake-Rihanna almost commits suicide and then falls in love with the LA cop who saves her life.

Like I said, sounds terrible on paper.

But it's a lot better than that. The movie plays all of the melodrama in a low-key, understated way. The actors are great and turn in lovely performances and have great chemistry. There's a feminist streak to the whole proceedings, trying to explore the ways in which the recording industry uses women without being heavy-handed about it. It's a romance between too black characters in a movie made by a black woman (she also did Love & Basketball!).

And in the end, for all that the romance is sold to be front and center, it's a story of self-determination, about learning how to find yourself when everyone else is trying to control what you are.

It feels a little like a good fanfic in a lot of ways. It goes through the predictable motions of a romantic drama, but it goes through those motions with enough skill that it doesn't drag everything down, and adds a lot of interesting character development and nuance and care on top of it. It's not a mind-blowing, revolutionary movie, but it's good enough that I'm sad that I'd never heard of it, and I think that other people would enjoy it too.

Here, have a trailer:

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