The Sun Is Also A Star

 

            It's been a while since we've enjoyed a sweet, innocent, sincere romance.  Sure, it's a little sappy, but it's nicely done, and isn't entirely predictable.

            Natasha (Yara Shahidi) has lived in New York City for nine years now.  It's her home.  But her family says they're going to be deported back to Jamaica tomorrow.  It seems that ICE raided the kitchen where her father worked.  Natasha, who plans to study astronomy in college, makes an appointment with a government bureaucrat, who tells her there's nothing he can do, but does give her the name of a lawyer, a friend of his who specializes in immigration.  She begs his office for an appointment that day.

            What she doesn't know is that her path has already collided with him, or nearly so.  A car with a reckless driver bumps a bicycle rider, who happens to that same lawyer.  That same car is about to collide with Natasha, but she is saved by an alert passerby, Daniel (Charles Melton).  Well, actually, he's more than a passerby, he'd been following her from the train station lobby, because, well, he was smitten.  Natasha is grateful that he pulled her from the path of the reckless automobile, but really doesn't believe in “fate” or “destiny” or especially “love at first sight.”  Daniel, the poetic romantic, asks her for just one hour with her to prove her wrong.

            Well, the hour turns into more time because both their appointments get postponed.  It seems Daniel was supposed to be interviewed for a scholarship to Dartmouth, as a pre-med student.  Except that's what his parents expect of him, not what he wants.  They are South Korean immigrants who own a black hair care store in Harlem.  (They explain how it's a thing with Koreans?)

            We all know what's going to happen next---this handsome couple finds fun ways to spend the day together, including a visit to the planetarium, and strolling along the Hudson River, and even karaoke (would you believe he sang “Crimson and Clover” to her?).  And somewhere along the way, they fall in love.  Director Ry Russo-Young keeps it PG-13, though:  there's no nudity or sex involved, just a lot of hugging, kissing, and making moon eyes at each other.  The tension is because Natasha honestly doesn't know if she's going to be deported the next day, so, literally, all they have is today.  And that, of course, becomes a metaphor: in light of the fact that we are mere dots in the solar system, relatively speaking, we're all butterflies, only alive one day. 

            Though both the stars are young, they are both already veteran actors, and it shows.  They both command a strong screen presence individually, as well as creating some chemistry together.  We so want to root for the star-crossed couple to somehow find a way to “happily ever after,” even if logic might dictate otherwise.  After all, emotions are not controlled by logic.

            This is the kind of romance that teens can safely watch as a “date” movie.  And if their parents have any romanticism left in them, they just might enjoy it, also.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association