When ‘A Walk To Remember’ topped off with added romantic clichés, wed ‘Everything, Everything’, in which a rare disease brings end to a blossoming teen romance, you’ve pretty much got the idea of Scott Speer’s melodrama, ‘Midnight Sun’, based on the 2006 Japanese film ‘Song Of The Sun’.
Within the first few minutes, you know you are strapped in for another terminally-ill teen romance like ‘The Fault In Our Stars’, when Katie Price, played by Disney Channel’s alumni Bella Thorne, tells her dad she does not want to be defined by her disease. The premise in the beginning beams resemblance to a Nicholas Sparks-esque story. You’ve got a single dad, a terminally ill daughter and (Cue: slow transition, soft focus with warm filter on screen) a dead mother we see in the flashbacks strumming a guitar with her daughter. Her dad, played by Rob Riggle, is an adoringly over-protective father who home-schooled Katie throughout her life.
The disease that threatens her life is XP, ‘Xeroderma Pigmentosum’, a condition in which the body is unable to heal from DNA damage caused by the exposure of UV light. In reality, the side effects include dry skin, cancerous lesions and prominent spider veins but in the film, when the disease escalates, you only get to see the character appearing paler with dark eye circles and nude coloured lips, as the internet would call it, “no-makeup makeup look”, and it seemed like the disease was exploited for plot contrivance by only touching the surface and cherry picking the conditions.
Early on, we learn that Katie’s dad has taken every precaution to protect her from sunlight by using heavy-duty tinted windows in the house. The film rewinds to young Katie sitting by her bedroom window daily and spying on her neighbour, Charlie, and developing a childhood crush. The teenage Charlie is played by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s son Patrick. In his first leading role, he managed to capture the hearts of many with his amiable Schwarzenegger smile and unintentional ‘blue steel’ look but failed to deliver the emotional impact in his performance.
Not being able to leave her house during the day, Katie often head to the train station at night to perform original songs to unassuming strangers and it just so happens that her childhood love, Charlie, ditched a party and stumbled across her performing at the station one fateful night and falls in love with her instantly. The two meet again and sprouted a series of syrupy nocturnal dates bundled in a rom-com styled montage. This nightly affair makes you question if Charlie is slightly dim or just too smitten to find it suspicious that his girlfriend is only available after dark.
The film attempts to relate the lead roles with the audiences through Charlie’s lost scholarship after a drunken accident and Katie’s musical aspirations. It never lacked in sentiments, resulting in an excessive amount of chronic clichés. The film is designed to keep your fingers crossed for an happy ending, despite the impending death upon Katie, which adds an element of thrill and anticipation to the plot.
‘Midnight Sun’ might interest adolescent hopeless romantics but it feels overdone, unimaginative and backdated at this point. Here are some references that hit the nail in capturing every sappy teen romance films in the past. Let’s see, unrequited love? Check. Love at first sight? Check. Especially, with the stranger right under your nose? Check. Lead actress goes through a beautiful makeover at one point? Check. A romantic little escapade? Check. A sensitive hot guy with issues on his own? Check. Swimming under the moonlight? Check. Love songs? Check. Dying for love? Go figure.
The forcible attempt to showcase a passionate, loved up couple missed it’s mark when the chemistry between the father and daughter is so much more sincere and convincing than the lead couple. In conclusion, the writing felt lazy with hasty character development and predictable turning points, making the whole relationship seem superficial. Hence, you don’t really feel strong for their love or loss. ‘Midnight Sun’ is packed with a sloppy plot and eye-roll-worthy clichés, albeit the movie did have a feel-good essence at certain points and if you are into romantic tearjerkers, you can give this half-baked attempt for a love story a go with a group of your gal pals.
Take a look at the trailer below:
Midnight Sun is out in theatres now.