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No Ordinary Romcom
By Ryan Brunt
There are few movie genres more unfairly maligned than the teenage romantic comedy. Sure, they can be a little contrived with some questionable writing, but most of the criticism on these fronts comes from people holding them to an unfair set of standards. To truly enjoy this kind of movie, a certain degree of suspension of disbelief is required; in a way, it’s supposed to be a little cheesy and silly. The Sun is also a Star is no exception, although to call it a typical romcom would do it a disservice.
,Based on Nicola Yoon’s 2016 novel, the movie focuses on one crucial day in the lives of its protagonists, Natasha (played by Yara Shahidi) and Daniel (played by Charles Melton). This casting decision elevates the film in a couple ways; casting Shahidi and Melton in the lead roles provides a refreshing and important change in a genre that is almost always stiflingly white, and it also helps cover some of the script’s weaker moments. Although they are saddled with some eye-roll inducing dialogue, Shahidi and Melton’s acting chops still do a great job of making us believe in the story. And although that story’s premise — Daniel bets Natasha that he can get her to fall in love with him in a day — comes off as honestly fairly creepy, Shahidi and Melton’s onscreen chemistry makes up for any discomfort.
The location chosen for the story is also crucial to the story’s believability. Set in New York City, the movie is packed with loving wide shots that establish the city as absolutely critical to the film’s story. The city gives the movie a soul, something that is so often missing in romantic comedies; this strong sense of place does a lot to ground the movie’s flightier aspects. Watching the movie, you get the feeling that this story would be entirely different if it did not take place where it does. And although many New York movies try really hard to use the setting as another character, The Sun is also a Star does it so effortlessly you almost don’t notice.
The Sun is also a Star is not a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination. It has a tendency to lean on clunky expository dialogue and the romantic premise doesn’t quite hold water, but it’s still an enjoyable movie. Because when you get right down to it, this movie is what it is; it’s a solidly written, beautifully shot teen romance starring two extremely talented leads. And to be honest, you can’t really ask for much more.
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