Based on the 2006 Japanese film of the same name, Midnight Sun is a romantic drama about a young girl who suffers from xeroderma pigmentosum, a condition that prevents her from being exposed to sunlight.
Midnight Sun attempts to show a realistic romance between two teenagers by stealing the most poetic elements of a real-life illness and merging them into 21st century values. The entire premise is good for a romantic drama, and if I had seen this film in my early teenage years I’m sure I would have shed a tear; that being said, good is about as high as I am willing to go in terms of praise.
The film simply doesn’t offer anything that we haven’t seen before. Very Fault In Our Stars-esque, Midnight Sun is watchable for the romance lover, but sadly fails to be anything overly special in terms of romantic film. The plot is at times enticing, but entirely expected, and the narrative feels like it could have worked much better as a drama series for television.
Katie (Bella Thorne) suffers from xeroderma pigmentosum, which prevents her from going out into sunlight. The smallest amount of the sun’s UV light could kill her. We witness the unique friendship between her and Morgan (Quinn Shephard) stemming from their childhood years to leaving high school. Despite Katie never being outside in the day and partaking in “normal” activities, Morgan is there to help her through. Shephard plays an incredibly believable and likable role, and for that deserves credit. However, the real plaudits in terms of performance have to go to Katie’s dad, Jack (Rob Riggle), whose heart-warming yet hilarious portrayal of a widower with a seriously ill daughter deserves ten out of ten.
The film starts fairly slow, but it isn’t long before Katie’s life-long crush finds her and her guitar singing the evening away at the local train station. Katie (Bella Thorne) begins going out at night, claiming to be busy during the day to hide her affliction and thus experiencing life in love like she has never before.
There are some cute scenes during the two teenagers’ evening escapades, for example when Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger) insists Katie sings and a crowd gather to hear her talent, but this quickly borders the cringe and the cliché. At other times, the cuteness completely side steps over the line and hits cliché with the force of a thousand suns. Other scenes did have me laughing; when Jack meets Charlie for the first time there is the overall awkward tone quickly subsided by Jack’s completely likable personality and ultimately the great acting that made the role so believable.
Katie falls ill after her watch malfunctions after getting wet on an evening swim with Charlie and she doesn’t realise what time it is. There is the heart-breaking factor that Charlie was unaware of her illness, and with no sign of good health returning soon, the film takes a dark turn. Wanting to experience sunrise on a boat that Charlie has been taking care of for the summer, Jack and Morgan aid Katie in one final venture with her sweetheart. This all sounds very sweet, but at the same time as being all lovey-dovey, this is essentially the assisted suicide of a teenage girl. The entire thing could have been more plausible, and understandable, had Katie not dramatically removed her hood and thrust her face in the UV beams. The cliché was completely overstated on this one.
I will admit, the ending was nice, even if a little soppy. As Charlie says his goodbyes to Jack and heads off to college, a track Katie had sung (after Charlie has paid for her time in a recording studio is seen to gone viral on the internet, and is now being played on the radio all over America. As Morgan, Charlie and Katie’s dad all listen to her, it seems the girl with the kind heart and the bad luck, lived on in the ones who loved her after death.
Written by Leah Jade Wimpenny
Directed by: Scott Speer
Written by: Eric Kirsten
Starring: Bella Thorne, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Rob Riggle, Quinn Shephard
Released: 2018 / Genre: Drama
Country: USA / IMDB
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Top 10 Films reviewed Midnight Sun on DVD courtesy of Studiocanal. The film was released on Digital, DVD and Blu-ray on July 23, 2018.