'Beyond the Lights' a star turn for Gugu Mbatha-Raw

November 12, 2014 9:21 PM

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A shamelessly entertaining mash-up of "Gypsy" and "The Bodyguard" finely tuned to the blingy excess of the hip-pop era, "Beyond the Lights" is a movie brimming with promise and unexpected pleasures. Structured as a conventional stage-mother melodrama, this go-for-broke backstage romance, written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood ("Love & Basketball"), admittedly suffers from inertness during its most starchily emotionalistic passages. But it also fully owns its wish-fulfillment fantasies of love, fame and ambition, set within an overarching bid for authenticity that gives what might have been a disposable piece of eye candy an admirable sense of groundedness.

The fact that the film's star, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, delivers a genuinely galvanizing performance as a singer searching for her own voice makes "Beyond the Lights" not just enormous fun to watch but surprisingly gratifying on an artistic level. Like the early Oscar hopeful Eddie Redmayne in the far more ...

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