South London, 1998, a young ten year old girl named Noni (India Jean-Jacques) is set to perform in the Richmond Talent Contest singing a song named Black Bird. When Noni fails to come in first her mother, ‘Mommy Dearest” Macy Jean (Minnie Driver) exudes to Noni if she was to be a runner up or a winner. Years later Noni (Gugu Mbathe-Raw) has come a long way and is about to receive a Billboard music award with her album collaborator Kid Culprit (Richard Colson Baker).
Things don’t always appear as they seem and even the rich and famous have their personal and mental struggles. Noni has had issues with her identity and understanding of her life since childhood and having an over bearing mother never helped her cause. Yet when Noni is about to jump from her balcony there is one person that truly sees her and reaches out to her, Kaz (Nate Parker) the police officer outside her Sofitel Hotel room in Beverly Hills. When the press gets word of the situation secrets are locked and relationships flare for Kaz and Noni even though she is still involved with Culprit. Noni and her controlling mother are soon faced with complications from her record label, Crown Platinum Creative, causing her mother to once again step in not for the benefit of Noni but as usual herself.
Boys want to be with Noni and girls want to be her but she is torn inside and her image as a role model is broken. As her relationship with Kaz begins to grow his supporters that want to see him take advantage of his instant fame by moving into the political world have been trying to influence his decisions in life as well. Both are caught in a world of turmoil so they escape to Mexico to spend some alone time and figure out their next steps, hopefully as a couple. Although when the public gets wind of the little Black Bird, Noni, and her location life once again throws her head first into the life of fame only this time she is a little different. Noni discovers that truth is the only safe ground to stand on and that sometimes a person has to sing their own song to be appreciated for who they are, making them free at last. Saying I love you to the person who truly cares is sometimes the window one needs when the door is closed!
I absolutely enjoyed this film, the story, a great soundtrack, the direction and writing is very well done. I was able to extract my own moments of thought , strength and lessons from this film that have shed some light within my own world and I think it will do the same for other romantics in the world. At times the story seems a bit lengthy and repetitive in the story but the main actors, Mbatha-Raw and Parker, help to propel the story line both mentally and physically. Heck when Parker removes his shirt in one very serious moment it did not stop the women in the audience from moaning in lust for his chiseled body. Parker is an absolute joy to watch, as is Mbatha-Raw, when they are together on screen they tend to bring a bit of a flare to the story. Driver is superb as the evil mother and her looks and actions alone make you want to shudder in fear of her behavior. Colson Baker is a bit of a miscast in my opinion but he does ok for his small role. Nice to see Danny Glover as Captain Nicol and the father of Kaz, he helps in the supporting role. Overall, this is a film worth seeing on a romantic night out at the movies with a date or by the female demographic out for some eye candy and a walk down relationship road. Nice to see a loving relationship as well between Kaz and his dog, a Rottweiler, usually depicted in a not so favorable light but in this film shown as man’s true best friend. Written and enjoyed with two and a half paws out for four by Jon Patch.