The latest in the long, long line of beautiful-looking movies about beautiful-looking star-crossed teeangers, The Sun is Also a Star has all the elements of a halfway-decent young adult drama, but it simply can’t help itself—the overpowering urge to be a cheeseball tween weepie is just too strong. Stuffed to the gills with chit-chat about fate and destiny and love, Sun checks all the boxes along the way to its all-too-predictable conclusion.
Yara Shahidi is Natasha, a Jamaican immigrant teen whose world is crashing down; she and her family are a day from being deported. Charles Melton is Daniel, a Korean kid with his whole life ahead of him, on his way to an alumni interview for admission into Dartmouth. Naturally their paths cross in the crowded streets of New York City—merely the first in a lengthy string of incredibly coincidental (or is it… fate??) confluent events.
Based on the novel by Nicola Yoon, Sun gives the 2001 Kate Beckinsale/John Cusack rom-com Serendipity a run for its money in the “Come on… really?!?” department. Beyond simply running into each other in the first place, Natasha and Daniel bond over the fact that they somehow have the phrase “Deus ex Machina” in common, that he saves her life, and that she is a love-cynic of the highest order (while he, naturally, is the consummate hopeless romantic). And that’s only the beginning.
His interview and her last-second meeting with an immigration lawyer both get postponed (and, believe it or not, are later revealed to both conveniently tie in together), opening their day up for a whirlwind eight-hour romance heavy on montages and set to a twee soundtrack. It’s John Hughes Moviemaking 101, and give director Ry Russo-Young (Before I Fall) credit—she proves again that she does have the ability to take even the most rote and eyeroll-worthy material and make it at least a little interesting.
To be sure, both Shahidi and Melton have chemistry, talent, and looks to spare, and their presence alone helps elevate the movie somewhat, particularly given the fact that 90 percent of it is just the two of them. That being said, the supporting cast is spot-on, too, including John Leguizamo and Jake Choi.
The one thing (okay, one of many things) that could have made The Sun is Also a Star an above-average movie, however, is the one thing I can’t talk about without violating every “No Spoilers!” edict in the critic rulebook. But when you get to the end of the flick, I practically guarantee you’ll agree with me. And you’ll know it when you see it. And then when you see it again. There. ‘Nuff said.