Those who watch ‘black-ish’ and its spin-off ‘grown-ish’ already know that Yara Shahidi is breathtaking to see on television.
Well, her beauty translates to the tenth power on the big screen as she makes her romantic lead debut in Ry Russo-Young’s “The Sun is Also A Star.”
The film is a bit bland – and predictable as any serendipity-driven epic tale of fate stepping in so love can conquer all. However, there’s something about it that makes you want to stay the course, even in knowing every direction of the film from the very beginning.
Mostly, it’s stunningly good looks of Shahidi and her co-star Christopher Melton as two teens on polar opposite paths of their life’s next chapter that just so happen to have their lives intersect at a subway station in New York City.
Because of unforeseeable life logistics, they have less than a day to seal their fate. As with plenty of New Yorkers, Daniel Bae and Natasha Kingsley are the first in their family to grow up in the United States. She is a Jamaican native who came to the city she grew to love as a child. He’s a first-generation American born to Korean parents.
He’s a poet, but the pressures of his immigrant family threaten to force him down a career path he has no interest in. She has a mind for science – and though practical – believes her knowledge can be the key to her success. He feels like she is his heart’s destiny. She doesn’t even believe in love. He has a brief window to convince her otherwise before they set on life journeys that will more than likely never intersect again. The dreamer and the pragmatic future scientist set off together as she allows him time to “disprove his hypothesis.”
Even with the knowing of what will happen over the course of their day, there is a level of enjoyment of exploring that the impending couple have more in common than one might assume by looking at them. The idea that the film, an adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s novel of the same, might be loosely based on real life adds another layer of enjoyment to “The Sun is Also a Star.” Yoon, who seems to make a point of blended romances in her work, is Jamaican-born and her husband is Korean American.
Fantasizing about the story being rooted in reality and the relentlessness with which Daniel attempts to carve a place in Natasha’s heart will have the audience more committed to the story than the typical teen romance.
The effective nuances of Russo-Young’s direction make for delightful detours over the course of the story. The viewer will be locked in with each turn that presents the possibility of a different ending from what is expected.
Melton and Shahidi are marvelously paired as Daniel and Natasha. Besides their exceptional good looks, the pair have a genuine chemistry that lends to the common connection of their characters. Watching Daniel destroy the barriers surrounding Natasha’s heart with attention to detail, care and charm, audiences will long for one of those fireworks-at-first-sight moments – or at least to fall in love all over again with his or her current partner or spouse.
“The Sun is Also A Star” opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, May 17. The film is rated PG-13 with a running time of 120 minutes.