The Sun Is Also a Star is the latest rom-com trying to cash in on the recent genre renaissance. But ultimately, the movie fails to captivate.
Natasha Kingsley’s (Yara Shahidi), last day in New York, turns into an experiment in love when she meets wannabe poet, Daniel Bae (Charles Melton). Daniel guarantees he can make the reluctant Natasha fall in love with him in under a day, and their testing of this hypothesis is the foundation of The Sun Is Also a Star.
Critics did not like this movie and audiences didn’t even watch it (as demonstrated by its abysmal box office return), but The Sun Is Also a Star deserves a little more credit.
Yes, there is too much schmaltz, and the script made me feel queasy with sweetness in some places, and the leading actors look like they stepped out of a commercial for the perfect skin moisturizer, yet I was touched by the underlying maturity forming the backbone of this teenage love story.
For every scene I rolled my eyes there was one that made me appreciate what this movie could have been had it not been quite so superficial. The worst offender is the scene where a train conductor stops the subway to encourage his patrons to “open their hearts” due to his near-brush with death on 9/11. It left me cringing.
The Sun Is Also a Star spends a fair amount of time showing its leads staring out windows in pensive silence, pontificating on the nature of life and death, and not quite enough developing the relationship between the central characters.
Melton and Shahidi are serviceable in their roles, but they don’t achieve the “x-factor” despite Daniel’s claims they have it. I didn’t feel the spark I was waiting for between them and therefore found their 24-hour romance to be harder to swallow.
I also wish we had spent more time with Natasha’s family, but I will give the film credit for following through in the story it wanted to tell. It doesn’t take the predictable way out even if the idea of fate and destiny is hammered in with zero subtlety.
Overall, The Sun Is Also a Star isn’t terrible, and I think it’s a more enjoyable film than it’s getting credit for, if not quite as endearing as this year’s earlier film in the same genre, Five Feet Apart.
It wouldn’t be the worst way for you to spend an afternoon, but you probably won’t remember anything notable about it afterward either. And kudos to the production team for using “Crimson and Clover” because you can never go wrong with that song.
The Sun Is Also a Star is now playing in theaters.