Author Nicola Yoon’s 2015 YA novel “Everything, Everything” was made into a 2017 film by Warner Bros. Now the studio has adapted another Yoon teen romance, going after the same target demo.
“The Sun Is Also a Star” pairs two star-crossed lovers: high school seniors Natasha (played by “black-ish” actress Yara Shahidi) and Daniel (“Riverdale”’s Charles Melton). Natasha’s family came to New York City from Jamaica when she was 9, her parents seeking a better life and future for her and her younger brother. But since they never became U.S. citizens, they’re deported back to Jamaica — tomorrow.
Daniel is first-generation Korean. His parents are pushing him to go to Dartmouth and become a doctor. He’s really passionate about writing and wants to be poet. Natasha and Daniel meet by chance, which Daniel believes is fate. And he thinks he can get Natasha to fall in love with him in just one day. But he doesn’t know that that’s all the time he’ll likely have to spend with her.
“The Sun Is Also a Star” is basically “La La Land”… without the music, with a younger couple and set in The Big Apple. This film is an absolute love letter to the city of New York. But if you go through the movie —scene by scene, element by element — the similarities to Damien Chazelle’s 2016 Oscar-winner are stunning.
This is the kind of romance that most teen girls dreams about. Much of “Sun” is a fantasy. There are intentional coincidences, connections and events that truly would only happen in the movies. About half of the script (written by “Girls Trip”‘s Tracy Oliver) does have a basis in reality. A subplot involving Daniel’s resentful older brother and some illogical third act decisions do take you out of the moment.
Shahidi and Melton (who are 19 and 28, respectively) are a likable pairing. Without their chemistry, “Sun” would’ve fallen into a black hole. John Leguizamo pops-up in with a key, respectable supporting role. He’s the only recognizable, veteran actor in the cast.
Director Ry Russo-Young (of 2017’s overlooked “Before I Fall”) relies heavily on tight close-ups and narration to move the story along. And much of the dialogue from both main characters about fate and destiny is a overly philosophical, psychological and astronomical. But by the end, it’s tough not to find yourself hoping these two kids can somehow find their happily ever after.
“Sun”’s themes of time and love shine just bright enough for a mild recommendation.