It wasn’t too long ago we indulged in mawkish teen romance Everything, Everything – which depicted the anguish of a teenage girl who can’t go outside, only to fall for the boy next door. That is exactly the same narrative as we see in Scott Speer’s Midnight Sun, and sadly, this self-pitying teen flick is no less contrived than what came before.
Based on the Japanese movie on the same name from 2006, Bella Thorne takes on the role of Katie Price, a 17 year old who has a rare skin disease called Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP) which means she cannot be in the sun, for any exposure could lead to her death. Her only real company is her father (Rob Riggle) and best friend Morgan (Quinn Shephard), but for years she has sat by her window and fallen for local swimmer Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger) who passes by frequently. One night, on her graduation from being home schooled, she sets off to the local train station to busk, using her deceased mother’s old guitar, and it’s there she is confronted by the man of her dreams for the very first time, as Charlie approaches, and the two embark on a passionate summer romance, in the dark.
The film just feels so overtly cinematic, and yet not necessarily in an endearing way. The way everything comes together, such as when the leading duo go on a date in Seattle and walk into a concert – and they happen to stumble in during the band’s most famous song, allowing a nice little musical montage to play out. Or when she busks by the seafront, and garners a huge crowd for her rubbish songs. There’s a bloke at Tottenham Court Road Station who plays the guitar with no arms. People just walk past. It’s things like this, while somewhat pedantic to point out, that are emblematic of a film that is just too cliched. Plus, like Everything, Everything – isn’t it handy that sufferers of conditions like this just happen to be really attractive? And even more convenient that they happen to have very handsome male neighbours too – what are the odds?!
Katie’s musical career is a sub-plot here and one that is hard to abide by such is the poor quality of the songs she writes, sounding like the sort of music that could wind up on a FIFA video game soundtrack, and believe me, that’s not a compliment. Plus, her music is so well-received, which does beg the question; why is that things that go viral in movies would never go viral in real life? If you’re gonna make her music such a big narrative device, it simply has to be better.
The storyline is brave in parts though, going down roads the viewer may not have anticipated (well, unless they’re big into Japanese cinema, anyway) so must be commended for subverting expectations in that regard. There is an added element of enjoyment for British viewers too considering this film is about a character named Katie Price who is hiding from the sun. Over here that could be construed as being a movie about a TV personality avoiding a invasive newspaper. Which, to be fair, sounds like a far better movie than this.
Midnight Sun is released on March 30th.