The Sun Is Also a Star (2019)

The Sun Is Also a Star
Director: Ry Russo-Young
Writer: Tracy Oliver
Based on: Nicola Yoon‘s novel
Cast: Yara Shahidi, Charles Melton, Anais Lee, John Leguizamo, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Miriam A. Hyman, Jordan Williams, Jake Choi, Keong Sim, Cathy Shim
Seen on: 17.5.2019

Content Note: deportation, (critical treatment of) racism

Natasha (Yara Shahidi) and her family are from Jamaica and face deportation from the USA the very next day. She hopes to get an appointment with a lawyer who may just be able to help them. On the way to this appointment, she meets Daniel (Charles Melton) who is heading towards his college interview. Daniel believes in signs and he sees a sign in Natasha, or rather her jacket. He manages to convince Natasha to spend some time with him and to give him a chance to win her over.

The Sun Is Also a Star is nice and cute, but I wanted to like it more than I did. I’m just not one for narratives about destiny.

The film poster showing Natasha (Yara Shahidi) leaning against Daniel (Charles Melton). Behind them are star signs.

What makes the film very interesting is the fact that it’s a love story between and Asian-American man and a Black woman, with practically no white people in the film at all. That Natasha and her family don’t have the necessary papers in addition to their being Black means that immigration issues and deportation as well as racism are just part of the story’s natural fiber – and we definitely need more stories like this.

I also absolutely loved Leguizamo’s supporting role – one doesn’t see him enough in film, I think. And the music was really nice, too. But as for the central romance? That fizzled more than sizzled for me.

Natasha (Yara Shahidi) and Daniel (Charles Melton) cuddling in grass.

On the one hand, the entire fate/destiny hogwash just got on my nerves. That is a general problem of mine and not something that is particular to this film, but it just doesn’t work for me. And I found it equally annoying that this is yet another instance in a romance where the man is all sure about how things work and the woman has to learn to see things his way. I’m exaggerating a little here, it was softened, because Daniel did have some growing to do as well, but ultimately his obsession with fate is proven right, not Natasha’s scepticism.

That meant that the film just never really won me over. It’s sweet and a nice watch, but the next time I’m looking for a romance fix, this won’t be the film I’ll turn to.

Natasha (Yara Shahidi) and Daniel (Charles Melton) walking down the street with their hands clasped.

Summarizing: okay.

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