Bythewood’s talent is real, uncanny and quite unique. The plots planted in her heart are nurtured until they blossom on the big screen and giddily dance in the hearts of millions like a field of wild flowers.
It’s hard to disagree, when most of us are still deeply embedded into a love story that began with two 11 year olds playing ball. The classic film, Love & Basketball proves itself to be hallmark of kindred spirits, Monica to Quincy and undeniably, Bythewood to feature films.
On Thursday, September 18th friends, family and fans of Bythewood gathered in the SVA Theatre to support her latest film, Beyond The Lights. As the screening began her husband, Reggie-Rock Bythewood (co-producer of the production) shared that he was the first to read the script when Gina completed it in 2007. His heartfelt gratitude for the support of everyone in the room and his wife’s craft were endorsed by a rapid round of applause as she soon joined him on stage. From that moment on it was clear that the Urban World Film Festival chose a true gem for it’s opening night.
(Gina Prince Bythewood & husband, Reggie-Rock Bythewood)
The film begins as a reflection of a mystified millennial “American dream.” Bright lights, big dreams and unlimited fame. Yet the cumbersome popularity isn’t enough to keep singer, Noni Jean portrayed by actress, Gugu Mbatha-Raw from wanting to let go of her life on a 12 story balcony.
I would go onto say that she was saved by Kaz Nicol, the film's tall, dark and handsome knight and shining armor portrayed by actor Nate Parker but she isn't. Or at least, it doesn't loan itself to be that simple.
The success of this love story is hidden in the details of holding on. As Noni holds onto Kaz as he pulls her to safety she immediately becomes infatuated by his ability to see past her pop star persona. For the next 116 minutes, we are taken on a journey of love by holding onto promises, strength and who you truly are. This film however is no cliche. There are certainly elements (and a plethora of superstar cameos) that will keep you on your toes.
As a millennial, I had a deep appreciation for the authentic use of social media within the film. In an extremely clever and cunning way it was able to capture the spirit of how we (as millennial) communicate through twitter algorithms yet older generations and an industry understand by way of YouTube hits. Marvelous.
All in all the film is certainly a must see. Beyond the love story there is a message and deep social commentary on how we measure our own self worth. It exposes the tantalizing desire to look in the mirror and see someone who is loved by many yet blinded by the “reality” of what it means to see your true self.
Beyond The Lights will be released in U.S. theatres on November 14th.