Review: 'The Sun is Also a Star' caught in cosmos
Charming love story is bogged down by cosmic nonsense
The sun, the moon, the stars and all sorts of cosmic gobbledygook are thrown into "The Sun is Also a Star," a love story that shows how difficult it is to manufacture fate on screen.
Natasha Kingsley (Yara Shahidi) is a Jamaican living in New York City whose family is facing deportation. On her way to meet with an immigration lawyer, she wears a jacket emblazoned with the phrase Deus Ex Machina, the same phrase Daniel Bae ("Riverdale's" Charles Melton) scribbles on his notepad that morning. Why, it's fate!
Daniel spots Natasha at Grand Central Station and just has to meet her, but loses her in a crowd. But, could it be, yes! — she's on the same train as him. And, no way, they're getting off at the same stop! Someone should play the lotto, because everything's coming up Daniel.
Whether it's coincidence or the cosmos, these two find themselves on the same path, and they spend a lovely day together in New York.
Director Ry Russo-Young, working from a script by Tracy Oliver (adapted from Nicola Yoon's young adult novel) wants there to be so much more going on, so we get tilted, bending shots of the New York skyline and voiceover from Natasha that are meant to cast a dreamlike haze over the story. It makes it feel like an overcooked soup.
Shahidi and Melton have enough natural charm that they don't need all the bells and whistles, even if Melton is a decade too old to be playing an incoming college freshman. They're telling a timely love story between two immigrants — Daniel's family is from South Korea — that is strong enough to stand on its own. The cosmic elements (do we really need to bring multiverse theory into this?) distract from the love story's beating heart.
'The Sun is Also a Star'
Rated PG-13: for some suggestive content and language
Running time: 100 minutes