“The Sun is Also a Star” is a Sober Teen Romance

Shahidi and Melton are an appealing screen couple with an easy chemistry between the two of them. If one is willing to look beyond race, it’s easy to root for the pair.

Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton in "The Sun is Also a Star" (Photo Credit: Atsushi Nishijima © Warner Bros./MGM )

Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton in “The Sun is Also a Star” (Photo Credit: Atsushi Nishijima © Warner Bros./MGM )

“The Sun is Also a Star” is the rarest of interracial romances. It’s between a black woman (who is of Jamaican descent) and an Asian man (a first generation Korean-American). One would be hard pressed to find another feature film with a similar coupling. “Catfish and Black Bean Sauce,” which was released nearly twenty years ago, is one of the few to ever make it to the big screen.

This latest example is based on the New York Times bestselling novel of the same name by Jamaican-born author, Nicola Yoon. An adaptation of her previous novel, Everything, Everything was released in the theaters two years ago.

Yara Shahidi in a scene from "The Sun is Also a Star" (Photo Credit: Atsushi Nishijima ©  Warner Bros./MGM )

Yara Shahidi in a scene from “The Sun is Also a Star” (Photo Credit: Atsushi Nishijima © Warner Bros./MGM )

“The Sun is Also a Star” tells the story of Natasha (Yara Shahidi of “Black-ish” and its spin-off, “Grown-ish”), a teenager living with her family in New York City. On the verge of being deported to her native Jamaica, she meets Daniel (Charles Melton of TV’s “Riverdale”), a first generation Korean-American who is torn between the expectations of his parents to be a doctor and his passion for creative writing. The romantic and idealistic Daniel believes that fate has brought him and Natasha together. The cool and scientific Natasha doesn’t buy into any of that mushy romantic stuff, but reluctantly agrees to spend a little time Daniel, who insists that she will fall madly in love with him.

CAST: Yara Shahidi (Natasha Kingsley), Charles Melton (Daniel Bae), Jake Choi (Charles Bae), with John Leguizamo, Gbenga Akinnagbe, and Keong Sim.

This boy-meets-girl story possesses elements very familiar to fans of teen and young adult romances. For example, a good portion of the story centers around Daniel’s efforts to get Natasha to fall in love with him despite their different philosophies on life. Where the story stands out is in its examination of race relationships between blacks and Koreans. Specifically, the film looks at how Koreans came to dominate the black hair care industry.

Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton in "The Sun is Also a Star" (Photo Credit: Atsushi Nishijima © Warner Bros./MGM )

Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton in “The Sun is Also a Star” (Photo Credit: Atsushi Nishijima © Warner Bros./MGM )

Shahidi and Melton are an appealing screen couple with an easy chemistry between the two of them. If one is willing to look beyond race, it’s easy to root for the pair. Also, for those who find teen romances mawkish, they might appreciate the film’s more sober and evenhanded approach. On the other hand, fans of the genre might find the film lacking a satisfying emotional payoff. Another issue of concern is its reliance on happenstance and coincidence.

Overall, “The Sun is Also a Star” has a bit more on its mind than the typical teen romance. While the pairing of the two lovebirds is intriguing, the romance gets bogged down with plot machinations toward the end.

“The Sun is Also a Star” is rated PG-13 and is distributed by Warner Brothers in association with MGM. The film opens Friday, May 17th, 2019 in wide release.

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