I can't say that was ecstatic about seeing BEYOND THE LIGHTS because it just seemed like a 21st century update of THE BODYGUARD, but for what it's worth, despite being narratively uneven and weighed down with clichés, it still is a compelling portrait of what goes on behind the scenes of people who are in the public eye. It stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Noni Jean, a cookie-cutter pop star who specializes in the oversexed, over-produced crap that tops the charts these days. One night, after winning an award for her latest single, she attempts suicide but is saved by the officer (Nate Parker) assigned to protect her that evening. From that point, a romantic relationship develops between them as they each figure out how to break out of the mold that other people have tried to keep them in, and begin to think and act for themselves. On paper, that sounds pretty good generally speaking, the film does a good job exploring those themes. The real standout of the cast is Gugu Mbatha-Raw who brings a youthful quality and emotional honesty to a character who, initially, is asked to do a lot of degrading things for the sake of "image." Her mother, played by Minnie Driver, also does a great job as this domineering, controlling personality who micro-manages her daughter's life. One begins to wonder who exactly she wants the career and the fame for: her daughter or herself. It's because of these qualities that she is an extremely unlikeable character, yet there is one stripped down scene in which another, sweeter side is shown and you get a little back story on why she is the way she is. Nate Parker also acquits himself rather nicely, although he and his storyline about being an aspiring politician are mostly sidelined in favor of Noni, although to be fair she is the main character. It would have been nicer for the story to be a little more balanced in that regard, but the juxtaposition of his and Gugu Mbatha-Raw's characters was established well enough. Sadly, all is not well with the film. It succumbs to a lot of the narrative clichés that plague films revolving around music and romance. Fortunately, there is a segment about halfway in which a much-needed break is taken from it all, in which Noni and Kaz get some one-on-one time. There were also a handful of moments that made me laugh unintentionally, such as when Noni takes Kaz on his first flight and they make love to Beyonce's song "Drunk in Love." And then there's Noni's label partner and sort-of boyfriend Kid who was a collection of "white rapper" stereotypes who made me cringe every time he opened his mouth. Overall, the positive elements do outweigh the negative and the film delivers a satisfying story about being true to yourself.