Beats is an urban movie which highlights the everyday struggle of a black person in the ‘ghettos’ of America. Whilst using the age-old story of music being the only way out of a crime ruled neighbourhood, Beats takes a different approach in how the story is told, with a few surprises along the way. This is not your typical Hood-tale happily ever after but is very relatable to many black people, not just Americans, living in similar situations or going through similar struggles. The Backroom staff can give themselves a well deserved pat on the back for how they have chosen to tell this story as they have brought a breath of fresh air to a overused plot and storyline.
The movie focuses on the lives and relationship between troubled teenager August Monroe, played by Khalil Everage and the ‘washed up’ music manager Romelo Reese, played by Anthony Anderson. Due to unfortunate circumstances in their separate lives, the two have an unlikely meeting which gives root to a partnership and unlikely friendship. The Movie’s storyline and plot develops alongside the relationship between the two protagonists, sending a powerful message in the process. However, whilst the message of the movie may indeed be powerful, the delivery lacks lustre and compromises the movie as a whole. The Movie has an array of characters used in telling its story but does not leave space for much development to these various characters. Apart from August and Romelo, we only see depth in two other characters; Carla Monroe, August’s mother played by Uzo Aduba and Vanessa Robinson, the head teacher of August’s School and Romelo’s estranged wife, played by Emayatzy Corinealdi. The lack of development of the other characters leaves one to wonder; why are they here? This isn’t to say there is no character development at all but a storyline of this magnitude deserves some more depth to certain characters and relationships and how they have shaped August and Romelo. The Scriptwriters do try to do this however but fall shy of succeeding in my opinion. One thing that stands out is the scene selection. At times they feel rushed and filled with unnecessary speech but most of the time they have an impact and this I feel is helped by the scenery itself. The Movie is set in Chicago and you really feel that through the scenery. At no point in the movie do you feel like you are watching something farfetched. The scenery adds to the hard-hitting storyline and stirs emotions in the audience who have or are living in similar cities. Imagery is a big thing in movies and they get it right on the money.
The acting in this movie was strong, with each character playing their role nicely. The stand out performance for me was by Khalil Everage. There were many a scene where you could almost feel his pain through the screen. The Trauma which befalls him and sets up one of the sub plots for this movie, effects his character in several ways and Khalil does an excellent job of showing this. As stated earlier, his was one of the few characters that show major character development and Khalil is able to demonstrate this through his character beautifully. The fall and rise of August Monroe is a story in itself throughout this movie and you rarely feel like you have missed out on any part of it.
Overall I would give this Movie a 7/10. It is both powerful and light hearted at the same time. The message is not lost in translation and though they use an old story line, the spin they put on telling the story and even the outcome is different, enjoyable and gripping at the same time.