I know this gets said a lot, but I really wanted to like this movie. I've been a fan of Azealia Banks since 212, in spite of any twitter turmoil or legal problems since then, I've always kept up with whatever projects she has on the horizon, even though few of them come to fruition. I'm actually surprised this movie got made due to the infamous boob biting case Azealia has been caught up in, as well as the Russel Crowe beef that RZA made very public statements about, but here it is, for better or worse.
I actually was excited to hear some original music from Azealia in this movie at the very least, and we barely get that. We get a fragment of a song, and a few verses here and there, but so much of this movie is focused on the poetry class Azealia's character, Coco Ford is enrolled in that it feels like RZA's hackneyed point that rap is poetry has been beaten into our heads about a dozen times before the film's conclusion.
Love Beats Rhymes consists of mostly scenes between Coco and Derek, who have a decent amount of chemistry, but aren't exactly the most interesting or engaging couple ever committed to film. I actually found the dynamic between Derek and Professor Dixon to be more dynamic and believable, but Jill Scott is pretty much stuck in the role of bitchy teacher who doesn't "get" Coco until the last twenty minutes of the movie when she actually becomes a character.
The storyline involving Coco's band takes a backseat to her romance with Professor Dixon's TA Derek and scenes with Mahlik, her ex and a member of her group who has no consistent characterization. With a runtime under two hours, Love Beats Rhymes feels like a slog to get through, and if I wasn't a fan of Azealia I would probably have quit watching it halfway through, although it does get better towards the end.
Azealia Banks was surprisingly a fairly good actress and stood out among more experienced actors, which shouldn't have surprised me because she talks a lot in interviews about trying to become an actress before becoming a rapper, but even her charisma and likability can't save this movie from its fate of being two hours and forty minutes too long and very on the nose with its messaging which has been delivered better and more concisely elsewhere.