Worthy Ideas, Clunky Execution: Our Review of ‘The Sun Is Also a Star’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - May 17, 2019
Worthy Ideas, Clunky Execution: Our Review of ‘The Sun Is Also a Star’

A day, nay, an hour is enough to change the lives of two people. We see that here in The Sun Is Also a Star, where two young immigrants discuss heavenly bodies and contemplate their unlikely, one day romance. They’re holding on, wishing that their love can succeed, but will audiences fall for a film with such lofty ideas?

Ry Russo-Young, directing Tracy Oliver’s screenplay adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s novel of the same name, packs a lot of ideas in her movie. Other critics have pitched this as what would happen if Before Sunrise‘s protagonists came from different racial backgrounds. Both films share an anxiety and fatalism, although this one makes that tone pretty obvious.

So let’s talk about these protagonists. Natasha Kingsley (Yara Shahidi) is a New Yorker. We know that she’s from Jamaica because she talks about her origins profusely. But because of the current political climate, the government is deporting her family tomorrow, so she spends a busy day trying to stop that process from happening.

On the other side of town is Daniel Bae (Charles Melton). He writes poetry with his shirt open. He wants to make a career out of poetry, but since he’s a first generation Korean American, his parents are pushing him to be the doctor that his older brother couldn’t. His interview to get into medical school is downtown, which is where Natasha is walking around.

To keep the story short, Daniel spots Natasha. Russo-Young captures that moment with an anticlimactic close-up. He decides to follow her. A car almost kills her. After figuring out that she’s safe, he tries to convince her that he could make her fall in love with him. This fulfills one of romance movies’ tropes, one about guys doing creepy things. Melton doesn’t give off a creepy vibe but don’t they have better things to do that fall in love?

And because we’re in a romantic movie, Natasha considers it, which drives The Sun Is Also a Star into the ground. Those who know me know that I’m not against romantic gestures from strangers. However, her reluctant decision makes her character seem inconsistent from the way she tells the story of how her parents met.

Both the film and Natasha tell this story with a sweeping romanticism. However, when Daniel propositions her, she turns into a cynic. The tone behind the flashbacks should have been different to make her seem more consistent. I want to like this film, especially a person of color who is hungry for representation. But interracial romance between two people of color deserve better writing than this.

  • Release Date: 5/17/2019
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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