The Sun is also a Star
You know, I grew up with a major infatuation with the solar system as a kid. I think we all kind of did. The wonder, the majesty of something we can see every night before we go to bed, but have no idea how it works, what it is really and how we fit into it. Like love; it’s this indescribable yearning. A quest for that something special with that someone special. If you can’t tell, I’m a romantic.
A super romantic.
Not a hopeless one. I loved falling in love and am thankful to have found my life partner and have been happily married for going almost 8 years. Love stories are grand and translate to excellent films depending on the characters and their journey. Like a journey into space, love isn’t easy, but thrilling. Dangerous yet your down to explore. I guess you can say love is also a star. The center of our emotional universe that burns marvelously hot, and like a star has the possibility to die out and grow cold.
Its Natasha’s (Yara Shahidi) 2nd to last day in NY. She’s at her wits end and is searching for help with her and her family’s deportation back to Jamaica. Daniel (Charles Melton) is a bleeding-heart, readying for an interview with a college Alum to help get him into Dartmouth to study medicine. Thing is, Daniel has no passion to become a doctor but his families’ cliched urge to dominate his professional choices is supposed to drive conflict. The 2 have a chance encounter that will put both of those side stories on hold. Daniel sees things as fate. Natasha, the scientific sees them as purely coincidence. Daniel proposes a bet that he can get her to fall in love with him in a day. She gives him an hour!
Once again, I’m a super romantic. And what does work in this film really works. I don’t know where it came from and why I’ve been so predisposed to eat stories like this up. Yet, this film scratches the itch just enough for me to give it a passing grade on the very low side. If you’ve been reading my reviews I’ve said once or twice before I’m not a big reader. Especially of books from the Y.A romance genre. Seeing this is a NY Times Bestseller adapted screenplay I can’t knock the film too much and don’t know if it’s a good translation or not. So, I won’t attempt to.
The plot is below average. At least all its elements outside of the romance. The Immigration B-story or Daniel’s familial drama and the forced conflict all throughout the film. You snore through those scenes to get back to the chemistry between Yara and Charles.
The performances are very tender, and you can’t help but root for honest interracial love onscreen. These types of connections don’t happen often. Both actors carry a lot of weight in their eyes and do some of their best work just staring at one another. There’s an amazing scene dedicated to just that and it really is that something special. It then gets a little messy with the direction the film takes cinematically with the use of flashbacks and forwards. Their characterizations are a bit tropy, but we must consider the audience this film has been made for. For example, Charles’ 1st scene in the film is him with his shirt off giving you full appetizing abs. He’s tall, with an athletic build. He’s a writer, poet, artistic, and he can sing. It’s like he was built in a Teen Romance laboratory. Yara Shahidi has had a sultry rasp as a part of her acting ammo as she’s matured from child star to bona fide teen “it” girl. As much as I like her performance there are times in the film where she’s just doing a really good job at being Yara Shahidi.
Natasha is an illegal immigrant from Jamaica. I was a little lost trying to figure out the complexities of the immigration story in the film and her performance unfortunately doesn’t help it any. I’m a native New Yorker and Yara does nothing performance wise to make you think she was too. Missing the swag, the slang, and skepticism. There was an attempt at New York colloquialism, and it falls super hard. The script dosed handle the themes outside of love very gracefully at all either. The direction in this film is a peculiar one, as the events unfold in Avery “Crash” like way. Intersecting characters who should have nothing to do with each other yet matter-of-factly do. When done right you could have something special on your hands. When handled wrong, you start to turn your nose up at every subsequent sequence as it comes because your able to write the script in your head. You become distracted by the coincidences masquerading as fate and start to lose sight of the romance that’s trying to stay afloat.
Uniquely, in the midst of a bad script with good actors there’s some very good camera work on display. This film is very stylized and scored exceptionally. It gives you a very contemporary feeling that lends itself to the time these characters are in their lives.
The contrivances throughout the film are really hard to get over and work more to muddle a good thing as opposed to enhance it. The dialogue’s affectations are made to dress up the film as clever when in fact it feels more like its ripped out of 17-year-old girls diary.
“The Sun is Also a Star” is an interesting Y.A film that works more for its ooey gooey love and less for its commentary on immigration in. It’s teeming with the Teen Romance Movie cliche's and Crash-level coincidences bolstered by a script that’s begging for a little more substance but does hit you where it matters most. If you’re a fan of the genre this film is par for the course. However, if this isn’t your cup of tea and your hearts a little cold, not even the sun could warm you up with this movie.
KOLBYTOLDME RATING- 6/10
Director: Ry Russo- Young
Writer: Tracy Oliver
Starring: Yara Shahidi, Charles Melton
Run Time: 100 mins