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You may have never heard the term ‘monager’ before, but after watching a few minutes of BEYOND THE LIGHTS (2014) starring Guga Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker, and Minnie Driver, you will recognize a mother figure whose driving ambition is to personally develop and ultimately guide her child’s career in the entertainment industry. Even more manipulative than a ‘stage mother’, today’s monager only lives to see her own flesh and blood succeed, no matter the cost to her child’s happiness, rationalizing all the sacrifice will be worth it in the end as they even negotiate and formalize contractual obligations.

The very evening she accepted a Billboard Music Award for Hot New Artist, superstar performer Noni Jean finds herself on the edge—literally—as she emotionally fights to break free of her mother, and the over sexualized image she has expertly crafter for her. Only in the calming presence of policeman Kaz Nicol, assigned to her personal protection, does the young singer feel like she might find the strength to stand up and break free.

If this movie stirs up a little deja vu, you might be recalling the plot-driven love story of THE BODYGUARD (1992), or the ultimate stage mother in BLACK SWAN (2010). With both hit movies bearing strong resemblances to BEYOND THE LIGHTS, it doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to figure out where this latest release is heading. Kudos to Minnie Driver for her strong performance as an obviously flawed character whose personal desperation becomes her ultimate motivation.

Formulated and somewhat predictable, I believe this film would be best suited for rental-entertainment. Paying full price for a theatre seat might be a little bit of a stretch, so I suggest curling up on the couch and enjoying this chick-flick with a bowl of snacks and a fuzzy blanket. Directed by Gina Prince-Bthewood, Rated PG-13, 116 Minutes, Drama, Romance, *** 3 stars out of 5.

Editor review

Reviewed by Lynne Martin November 24, 2014
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