[su_dropcap]A[/su_dropcap] movie like The Sun is Also a Star requires you to surrender to its unabashed goofiness. The story features two romantic leads who espouse two very different views on love: She says that love is a hormonal reaction and nothing more, while he counters that the unknowable forces of destiny ferry us toward inevitable outcomes. The way the filmmakers bounce this couple from one schmoopy-eyed contrivance to another telegraphs which side of the debate they’ve taken: Love is mystical, and if it’s meant to be, then nothing can stand it its way. Sun builds its plot on this philosophical claptrap, a central conceit that damn near undermines the rest of the movie. If you can either buy into–or, preferably–look past this gobbledegook, you’ll find an attractive, winning couple and some strong supporting performances that almost rescue this film from tripping all over its own self-important cuteness.
Natasha (Yara Shahidi) is an aspiring young astronomer who lives in Manhattan with her Jamaican parents. Meanwhile, Daniel Bae (Charles Melton) finds himself hurtling toward the successful, if unappealing, life his Korean parents have sprawled in front of him. The two Meet Cute when he saves her from being clipped by a speeding car. They quickly connect, and are soon talking about the mysteries of life and love. Natasha beats back Daniel’s gushy advances with the relentlessly rational outlook of a scientist: Since love cannot be quantified, that must mean it does’t exist. In an act of hubris, Daniel points his proverbial baseball bat toward centerfield, and guarantees that not only will Natasha fall in love with him, but it will happen within the span of one day. Unfortunately, she carries a secret that might damage his prospects: Natasha and her family face imminent deportation. One day may be all they ever have.
The instant this movies starts off with Natasha’s ethereal voiceover about Carl Sagan and the origins of the cosmos, it’s pretty clear the script has already outkicked its coverage. I mean, I get it: In the scheme of the universe, we’re both molecularly minute and absolutely essential at the same time. Yada, yada, yada. Mostly, this narration is just a lazy method of rapid-firing exposition about Natasha and Daniel that filmmakers couldn’t deliver any other way. Further, the movie asks its audience to accept a series of increasingly outlandish coincidences, because…you know, it’s like, totally fate, man. Also, Daniel’s initial come-on to Natasha seems like an act of offensive, unbridled arrogance that would send most women running for the hills. She quickly buys into all this, mainly because the script requires it.
This review might make you think I’m a cynic, but you’d be wrong. I love my wife to the moon and sun, which apparently is also a star. Love is a very real, profound thing. But I also disagree with the movie’s main premise. Lasting love doesn’t arrive in one hour, or one day. I believe that fate can bring two people together, but you’ve gotta put the work in from there. (And if it’s true love, it’ll never feel like work.) All that being said, I almost bought into this story, probably because I’m just an old softie. Kingsley and Bae make a great couple. He notes that they have the “X-factor,” and he’s not wrong. They’re easy to root for, and this brings the movie up a notch. If you can sift past all the silliness, you might find yourself mildly entertained by The Sun Is Also a Star.