The Sun is Also a Star is a new romantic drama film directed by Ry Russo-Young (Before I Fall) from the novel of the same name by Nicola Yoon. The movie follows a Jamaican teenager whose family is being deported in one day as she meets a South Korean young man who sets out to teach her about the importance of love and fate.
The story of the film is pretty straightforward, hitting all of the exact same beats as pretty much any other YA-leaning romance to have come out in the past decade. That being said, this movie manages to stand out because it actually has something to say, unlike most other films of the genre. This political messaging does become a bit overwhelming at times, but for the most part, the movie is able to accomplish what it sets out to do.
One of the more disappointing parts of the film is its character development. Although the protagonist, Natasha, is sympathetic because of the situation in which she finds herself, she isn’t given much of a personality. There are a few points in the movie in which you see her passion for astronomy come through, but those are seldom as impactful as they should be. The love interest, Daniel, is a much more interesting character, although he also feels somewhat shallow and archetypal at times.
Perhaps the most damning issue of the film is that it is difficult to really get behind the romance between the two leads. Even though you will like each of the characters individually, it is hard to see the two of them together. One of the reasons that causes this is that you can’t ever really figure out Daniel’s motivations. He comes across as sincere about his belief in fate, but this doesn’t ever feel like enough.
The acting of the movie is fine, but nothing spectacular. Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton do have some legitimate chemistry together, but they don’t ever light up the screen. That being said, when they aren’t working together, they do struggle individually. Shahidi has some solo moments in which her emotion is supposed to dominate, and she isn’t able to handle these particularly well. Some moments, including the emotional climax, are almost laughable because of the performances.
It is on a technical level that this film succeeds the most. The look of the movie is breathtakingly gorgeous at times, so much so that it will almost convince you that the city is a beautiful place. The editing is certainly very ambitious, and for the most part it works. That being said, the cutaways of staged old photos and home videos are nothing new, having been done in recent memory by If Beale Street Could Talk to greater success.
Overall, The Sun is Also a Star wasn’t as great as it could have been, but it is still a mostly enjoyable and well-shot film. If you have a soft spot for young adult romance adaptations, this is one you won’t want to miss.
The Sun is Also a Star is now playing in theaters.