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South Valley Journal

Dan's Review: Sappy Coincidence Drives "The Sun is Also a Star"

May 18, 2019 05:46PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton in The Sun Is Also a Star - © 2019 Warner Bros.

The Sun is also a Star (Warner Bros.)

Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and language.

Starring Yara Shahidi, Charles Melton, Jake Choi, Camrus Johnson, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Miriam A. Hyman, Cathy Shim, John Leguizamo, Hill Harper.

Written by Tracy Oliver, based on "The Sun Is Also a Star" by Nicola Yoon.

Directed by Ry Russo-Young.

GRADE: B-

REVIEW:

As I’ve aged, my view of romance has slowly evolved into something less romantic and more practical. Sure, you’re thinking how pathetic and sad it must be for a guy to lose love’s flame, but I see it differently. I consider myself even more romantic by being less romantic, which is to say that I find “true” love more important than the way love is portrayed in movies. In other words, lighting, sound, scenery, colors, and cinematography are no match for the kind of love you feel in a committed relationship, in my opinion. But romance has its utility for the young people (as it did for me when I was young). It inspires, makes you feel all giddy inside and drives you toward potential “true loves,” even though you may not know it at the time. Such sappiness is the core of recent “teen romance” movies that also feature certain amounts of drama-inducing variables like life-threatening illness, forbidden cultural norms, and separation. The Sun is Also a Star is the latest film that caters to the teen set by appealing to their emotional state of mind, an adaptation of Nicola Joon’s young adult novel.

It’s the story of Natasha (Yara Shahidi) a high school senior who’s lived almost all her life in New York after her parents immigrated from Jamaica. Natasha is facing deportation when she meets Daniel (Charles Melton), the son of Korean immigrants. Daniel struggles with living up to his parents’ high expectations for attending an Ivy League school and becoming a doctor, while in his heart, he’s a poet and a romantic. Natasha has given up on romance and looks at life more scientifically. On the day they meet, several coincidences align not the least of which is Daniel has an interview with a Dartmouth alumnus that could make or break his chances to get into the elite school. Natasha is on her way to meet with an attorney who might give her family one more shot at staying in the United States. With opposite agendas and similarly opposing views on life and romance, the pair obviously hit it off when Daniel saves Natasha’s life by pulling her back from an oncoming car. Daniel challenges Natasha’s views on romance and wagers that he can make her fall in love with him before the end of the day. This progress as well as you’d you’d imagine in a teen romance until fate threatens to split them up forever.

The Sun is Also a Star has all the earmarks of a solid young adult romance (if you’re into that sort of thing), meaning there are plenty of cinematic tricks on hand to manipulate and gratify gullible teens. If you’re looking for meaning or any kind of nuanced views on romance and love, The Sun is Also a Star is a song with only one note: cosmic fate (or coincidence, chance, destiny, happenstance, etc.). Being the jaded “old person” in the theater, I have a different take on such things, since I believe that the nadir of any relationship can be broken down into a series of coincidences (“If I hadn’t stepped on that frog, we never would have met”) because whatever circumstance that brings people together is nothing more than circumstance if you trace events to every single “coupling.” That’s not to say that I don’t believe in a little luck, karma or serendipity, but to me, true love is grown, nurtured and cultivated through hard work and sacrifice, rather than given the sappy treatment of The Sun is Also a Star.

Shahidi and Melton do share a little chemistry, but their 24 hours together in the story don’t make much of a case for “true love,” since any number of similar change meetings might also lead to abusive relationships in worst case scenarios, or at the very least, a “walk of shame.”

So, if you want to believe that the cosmos holds some sort of formula for true love, good on ya. If you’re like me, the “real thing” is so much better.


"The Sun is Also a Star" trailer