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We live in a world where Pop princesses rise and flame out with such regularity that we tend to forget these fragile young women might actually have been relatable human beings at some point, and not just subjects of Pop fairytales. Writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball) takes audiences “beyond the lights” to remind us with the tale of Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a sexy young Pop starlet on the horizon, who comes dangerously close to the edge only to be rescued by a rookie cop (Nate Parker) on a similar path — his game plan includes an eventual political career.

The unlikely love story between these two manages to crack the pop cultural hype machine we might expect from such a project because Prince-Bythewood trusts her actors to fully embody character traits over shorthand stereotypes. (PG-13) Grade: B