This lesbian ‘80s story needs a new record label.

As a writer, Lena Waithe was able to express racism in “Queen & Slim,” and she’s able to express her own lesbianism in “Beauty.” It’s an ‘80s movie about a singer who threatens to be poisoned by the greed of her religious parents, who believe her love life is a sin. She’s able to thrive on what’s coming to her, and a woman should know the stakes without being pressured by anyone.

Unfortunately, as much as I respect women and the African-American community, I wanted more out of what Waithe was trying to accomplish. Half of it is poignant, while the other half is rather dull and routine. It’s basically the same thing on both sides with family, fame, romance, and greed.

Beauty (newcomer Grace Marie Bradley) is a young singer, who gets discovered by a talent scout (Sharon Stone), who believes she believes she bound for stardom. She gives Beauty contract, and now she’s given the choice of whether or not to sign it. Her strict and religious parents (Niecy Nash and Giancarlo Esposito) want her to sign it, but she wants to ask her friend Jasmine (Aleyse Shannon) if it’s cool with her.

Her parents are always belittling Jasmine, especially since they know they’re more than friends. They think she’s evil. Of course they would. But no matter what happens, they’ll always be there for each other. The father asks her brothers-Abel (Kyle Bary) and Cain (Michael Ward)-to “make her go away,” but they can’t pull it off. There’s no pay-off in this subplot, and just has the father insulting them.

Beauty signs the contract, and lives with Jasmine, but their relationship must be hidden from the public as her agent suggests. She has an image to keep, and the 80s weren’t exactly a great time for people to come out of the closet. That and she wants the young singer to appease to more of a white audience with her songs. She even has to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on live TV appearance, instead of performing one of her own songs.

The minute her father demanded for a cut of her money, I scoffed and knew he was greedy. The minute her mother slapped her in the face, I knew the old lady had problems. And both times, Beauty knows how to act like a woman.

The performances I’ve liked come from Bradley, Shannon, and Esposito. They express themselves through words of music and religion, and how they distinguish between good and evil. They’re the best things about “Beauty,” but they can’t even thrive on the script. Waithe has the ability as an actress and filmmaker with a voice, and she expresses it quite well, but somehow, her latest project felt so boring and uninspired.

As a made-for-Netflix entry, there’s supposed to be something inside “Beauty” for people to acknowledge. “Queen & Slim” acknowledges the fact that there are racist cops and wolves in sheep’s clothing in this world, while proving two brave protagonists. This movie acknowledges what greed and discipline would do to a person, unless they know how to use her voice. When you’re hearing Beauty’s words, you feel inspired, but when you see the same cliches, you feel bored.

Rating: 2 out of 4.

Streaming on Netflix

Categories: Drama, Romance

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