REVIEW: Sun Is Also A Star actors burn bright while rest of film distracts

There’s something about love on-screen that hits the idealist, hopeless romantic in me.

It’s not hard to please me in this genre, and yet, this latest entry in the young-adult romance canon just scratches the surface of what it could have been.

The Sun Is Also A Star is a romance based on a best-selling novel, and its two leads, Riverdale’s Charles Melton and Black-Ish standout Yara Shahidi, are reason enough to sit for this one.

But if I’m honest, besides the electrifying chemistry and dazzling charm of the two, there are so many puzzling, confounding things going on that the film likely won’t merit a rewatch.

This is a story of fate, romance and love, about a young girl, Natasha, trying to stop the deportation of herself and her family to Jamaica in 24 hours. She meets a young man, Charlie, who is being pushed into medical school to honour his family name, not because he has an affinity to be a doctor.

The two have an encounter that she calls chance, and he insists is fate. He asks for a day to prove to her that she can love her, despite her own ambivalence and doubt.

But the ‘star-crossed’ couple may not be able to overcome the obstacles ahead, even as they fall in love before the audience’s eyes.

Melton and Shahid are both born to be movie stars, and I can’t remember the last time (excluding Crazy Rich Asians) that both romantic leads were minorities. It’s both refreshing and long overdue, and both of these young thespians prove they’re up to the challenges of anchoring a film.

But it’s strange directing and cinematography choices by Ry Russo-Young and Autumn Durald that keep this film from ever being truly enthralling. From the intentionally blurred-out backgrounds in many shots, the dizzying camerawork and unnecessary asides to talk stars and oblivion, there’s my distraction than is at all necessary.

It’s not a style: It’s a lack of skill, and the behind-the-camera forces pull audiences away from the main story too often for us to ever fully invest.

But when Melton and Shahid are given room, make no mistake, these future stars truly do shine. If only they’d been trusted to do it the entire run-time.

2.5/5 Stars

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