THE FILM: Beyond the Lights
THE PAIRING: Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Kaz (Nate Parker)
THE MOMENT: Kaz flies all the way to England to tell Noni he loves her.
Recently out on DVD, Beyond the Lights is a love story well worth checking out. Yes, the first hour is hard to watch at times (thanks to uncomfortable objectification of Noni, the leading lady), but really all the objectification was necessary to the story and very purposeful. While Beyond the Lights is a romance with a message, the ending also proves writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood knows how to deliver a wonderfully romantic ending.
There are influences from The Bodyguard and even Titanic. I dare anyone not to compare the balcony scene to the propeller “suicide” scene in which each male hero rescues their “damsel” by seeing who she truly is behind their respective and metaphorical masks. Beyond the Lights is entirely its own engaging love story as well.
The story follows Noni, a highly pressured (to a creepy sexualized degree) music star who just doesn’t want the empty life of an objectified artist anymore. After winning a billboard award alongside her disgusting boyfriend, she tells the cop (Kaz) to guard her door and not let anyone in. Feeling hopeless, Noni attempts to jump off the balcony. Thankfully, Kaz catches her hand, beginning a spark between the two.
With a newfound feeling that someone sees the real her, Noni and Kaz begin to fall in love. Nevertheless, their blossoming love story hits a snag when Kaz reminds Noni that nothing has changed in her life. Everyone still expects her to be the persona of Noni. No one wants to hear what she has to say; to listen to the songs Noni wants to sing. Not to mention, their relationship started as a lie: Kaz had to tell the press it wasn’t a suicide attempt after all. Before the two can come together, there has to be change, and change definitely comes.
Throughout the whole film, Noni undergoes a beautiful transformation from objectified victim to a woman who stands up for herself. The persona of Noni died on that balcony and she is finally ready to be the real her. She’s ready to become the blackbird she sang as a little girl and again in a karaoke bar. She dresses more modestly, she tells the truth about her suicide attempt, and she fires her overbearing mother as her manager. She’s ready to just be free, to be the woman she always wanted to become. Kaz of course had a hand in this influence.
The Romantic Moment
Near the end of the film and after the two went separate ways, Kaz hears Noni’s confession on television and decides to go after her all the way to England (it should be noted he also has a fear of planes). He arrives just before Noni goes on stage. She sees him in shock. “What are you doing here?” She asks, realizing he got on a plane for her.
Her people grab her to go on stage, so she has no time to speak with the man she loves. Before she turns the corner, Kaz tells her honestly, “I love you.”
Noni turns around and stares back at him in awe:
“I’m not taking it back this time,” Kaz admits. But still she has to go, the audience calling her name. She gets on stage. They asked her to sing “Blackbird,” but instead she sings another Blackbird song, the one she wrote about her own feelings and life.
She hopes they like it, and then stares over at Kaz. Clearly, it is partially to do with him.
She begins singing the song, a song about truly being free. It is in this freedom she can be with the man she loves.
After singing a good portion of the song, Noni turns to Kaz and brings him on stage.
When they break apart, she tells him “I love you too.”
Feeling free and happy, she tells him not to go anywhere and jumps into the audience, an audience that accepts her for the Noni that can be herself. Kaz watches on with a proud smile.
He finds her in the crowd, and lifts her up with his hand and the two come together for another embrace.
The two look out at the crowd, both finally happy together, and yes “free at last.”
What did you think of Beyond the Lights? Did you love the ending as much as I did? Sound off in the comments…
Photo Credit: Blackbird Productions/Relativity Media
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