'Beyond the Lights' is a sharply focused winner

November 14, 2014 5:02 AM

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Flash-forward about a dozen years and Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) has chucked the glasses and the natural curly hair. She's a glamorous star, a la Rihanna or Nicki Minaj, singing duets with a famous hip-hop artist and wearing scanty stripper-style gear, gobs of makeup and purple hair extensions.

Though it sounds like a cross between The Bodyguard and the plot of a contemporary romance novel, this movie has more substantive ideas on its mind. Somehow, miraculously, the predictable saga skirts cliché.

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