Midnight Sun is a Nicholas Sparks-esque film that goes for comedy until the melodrama heats up in the third act.
Katie Price (Bella Thorne) is a high school senior and rather than have a normal life, she’s stuck at home due to her being diagnosed with a rare genetic condition, xeroderma pigmentosum. She spends her days hanging out with her dad, Jack (Rob Riggle) and her best friend, Morgan (Quinn Shepard), while writing songs and playing guitar. As she grew up, she would watch Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger) walk or skate by her house as he grew up. This eventually leads to Katie developing a crush on the swimmer.
On the night of her high school graduation (she was home schooled), Katie heads to the train station to play her guitar. Because of her condition, she can only go outside at night when she’s safe from the ultra-violet rays. Later that night, it’s the traditional meet-cute between Katie and Charlie, only she’s freaking out and fakes a cat funeral to plan. Rather than leave a glass shoe behind, Katie leaves her notebook behind. In going back for it, Charlie eventually asks Katie out and thus starts the best summer of her life.
Every time the two of them go out, including the night of her life in Seattle, it’s a risk for Katie that leaves her one day closer to her impending doom. The film treads so carefully in this department. Even if they don’t show it, we can see what happened in just looking at the faces of characters in the final minutes.
Both Thorne and Schwarzenegger have chemistry that would be best furthered in another project–preferably one that isn’t as sad. Thorne and Riggle have such great chemistry that one is able to buy into Rigger playing her dad. It’s not the typical Riggle performance. Yeah, there’s the comedic side that we all know and love. There’s an added layer with his playing a father. There’s so much emotion in the role.
Shepard, who made her directorial debut with Blame (2017), is an actress to watch. Shepard is able to bring both comedy and drama to the role. I’d love to see her and Thorne do another project together–that’s how fun it is to watch the two on screen.
Scott Speer makes for an interesting director. Most of his directing work has been music-based, whether it is in the Step Up franchise or music videos. Thorne’s Katie Price is a guitarist and there are some songs in the film so this is where Speer plays it to his advantage.
It’s the third act of Midnight Sun that takes the film completely into the melodramatic territory that Nicholas Sparks novels are known for. If one were to have gone in completely blind in seeing the film, assuming that Sparks had written the novel the film in which the film was based on wouldn’t be a guess that’s off the charts. Only the film is remake of a Japanese film, Song to the Sun (Taiyō no Uta), rather than adapting a book.
Maybe it’s the hormones but Midnight Sun left me as an epic disaster after watching.
DIRECTOR: Scott Speer
SCREENWRITERS: Eric Kirsten
CAST: Bella Thorne, Patrick Schwarzenegger, , Quinn Shepard, Ken Tremblett, Suleka Mathew, and Rob Riggle
Open Road Films opens Midnight Sun in theaters on March 23, 2018.