Directed by Scott Speer
Written by Eric Kirsten based on “Midnight Sun” by Kenji Bando.
Starring Bella Thorne, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Rob Riggle, Quinn Shephard
We live in a world full of boundaries. Some of them are artificial while others are real. Scott Speer’s romantic melodrama, “Midnight Sun” touches on both. For Katie Price (Bella Thorne), she suffers from a rare, life-threatening genetic condition, xeroderma pigmentosum. For Katie, exposure to the sun would literally kill her.
The story by Eric Kirsten does not make Katie feel as if she is trapped. Her dad, Jack (Rob Riggle) supports her through every step, making sure to protect her from exposure. Though she has physical boundaries, she is as well-adjusted as any of her peers, thanks to her amazing friend Morgan (Quinn Shephard). It is Katie’s quest to find the poet in herself though that she falls in love with the boy-next-door, Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger), watching him pass by throughout the years. A chance encounter allows them to finally meet.
Patrick is the consummate jock, though that role has changed since I was in high school. Every girl wants him and every guy wants to be him. Through their chance meeting, the story has a chance to flourish, giving our characters’ obstacles both real and artificial to overcome.
Mr. Speer’s (Step Up: Revolution) direction is assured as our two betwixt lovers learn about each other. The story doesn’t waste time avoiding its destiny and it makes great use of its characters. I swore several times throughout the movie that I was looking at a newer version of “Somwhere in Time” without the time travel. Ms. Thorne manages to belt out several original songs throughout the film, while Mr. Schwarzenegger carries his father’s build and his mother’s grace. I swear, looking at them together, I felt like I was looking at his father and in her, I felt like I was looking at a young Annette O’Toole, footloose and fancy-free.
The real highlight of the film is Mr. Riggle. He continues to surprise me with a tender, dramatic prose which I do not expect as an audience member, given that his natural inclination is humor. It’s a nice against-type casting choice for him to take on. He absolutely glows next to Ms. Thorne and they both know it.
Ms. Thorne’s career began in music and in Mr. Speer’s expert hands as a music video director, the scenes where she sings are absolute dynamite as her voice just leaps off the screen.
The story does have some challenges, namely with how Katie chooses to deal with her condition as it relates to her relationship with Patrick. Yes, it leads to the crux of the film, and gets us to that cursed destiny thing I mentioned. Yet, as many problems as I have with its function in the story, the payoff in the end is sweeter because of it. In many ways, this is a better version of “The Space Between Us,” and we all know how badly that one turned out.
Is the film for everyone? No. But the audience I saw the film with reacted positively to the film’s morals and the story. It is a good vehicle for Mr. Speer to continue build his dramatic story telling. For the cast, these smaller films allow them to play against type.
2.75 out of 4