A young troubled teen struggles to overcome the horrific death of a loved one and in the process finds his voice, in the Netflix film Beats.
Anthony Anderson (Romelo Reese), Khalil Everage (August Monroe) and Uzo Aduba (Monroe) are the main characters in this story of redemption after pain and loss.
Beats has moderate violence and gore, but the language has severe profanity and there is a lot of use of racial terms.
The film is based in Chicago’s inner city which is largely inhabited by African Americans.
The film mostly focuses on the urban areas of Chicago and has a lot of scenes based in the town and the club scene since it has a music theme.
August, is a teenager who together with his sister live with their mum in their apartment and he goes to a local public school.
After witnessing a horrific incident, August develops post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and cannot leave the house.
He is confined to his bedroom where he whiles away the days producing music beats for his own consumption, his mum encourages it as it is a way for him to cope with his PTSD.
Romelo is a security guard at the high school that August attends, but he is also a former producer and manager of a former rap star, and he has fallen on hard times and has taken the security job to help pay his bills.
One day, he is given the task of following up on truant students which leads him to August’s doorstep and to the discovery of the latter’s prodigious talent.
Monroe isn’t ready to have anyone upset her son and she quickly refuses Romelo’s offer to help produce August’s music and manage him.
Romelo is persistent and sneaks by to see August when Monroe is at work and the teen is upset at first but is intrigued by the offer and a secret bond of friendship is formed over music.
August’s talent impresses Romelo, who becomes even more eager to go commercial and introduce August to the music world, but there is one drawback, August does not want to leave the safe confines of his home. This proves to be a very severe drawback to Romelo’s plans and it forces him to become resourceful in order to get what he wants.
The storyline is slow and measured and we are able to understand the struggles that August is going through, Khalil plays his role masterfully.
PTSD is debilitating and it can make a person withdraw from society and live inside their head, replaying the traumatic incident over and over again. The setting of the movie in the inner city, exposes the audience to the daily struggles that families go through and the challenges that especially beset teens.
The use of strong language is synonymous with everyday street life in the inner city neighbourhood as it is also a tactic of intimidation.
Romelo’s struggle to find his path is one that we can all relate with, especially after once being a big shot in the past. He is forced to take a job that is beneath him just to survive and he has to deal with the public shame that this brings. His relationships suffer due to his attitude and he has to try and restore them though the consequences of his past actions haunt him.
Music is showcased throughout the movie, especially its power to heal and to communicate pain.
August channels his pain through his music and he is able to escape reality when he is producing beats and is able to cope better. Music also serves as a link between generations as Romelo being older is still able to relate with August despite the age difference due to their similar music interests.
Monroe is a single mother trying to do the best she can with what she has. A strong woman, she also has to set aside her pain and assist August and ensure his safety from anything that may cause him harm.
Beats showcases the struggles that black teens go through in tough neighbourhoods and their resilience under circumstances that threaten to overwhelm them.