"Love Is Fleeting"
Is love even real? Natasha Kingsley doesn’t think so in the teenage romance drama THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR. The day before Natasha and her family are supposed to be deported back to Jamaica, Natasha is saved from a crazy New York City driver by Daniel, a handsome Korean-American romantic who’s convinced Natasha is his soulmate on first site. THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR is sometimes compelling, but it’s mostly a tepid romance with philosophical musings that don’t really serve the story and give it a dreary worldview.
While Natasha is from Jamaica, she’s lived in New York City for nine years and considers it her home. Her parents, who came over illegally, have given up fighting to stay. However, on the eve of their deportation, Natasha is still setting up meetings with the immigration office and any lawyers who may help her family.
Daniel Bae is a Korean-American whose parents have pressured him his whole life to go to Dartmouth and become a successful doctor, however, Daniel is a dreamer and just wants to be a poet. When Daniel sees Natasha at the train station, he’s convinced that she’s his soul mate because her jacket says “Deus Ex Machina,” and just that morning he had started a poem with that as the title.
At first, he can’t find her in the busy New York City crowds, but he spots her again on a train. Before he’s able to introduce himself to her, he spots a crazy driver that’s heading for her direction and pulls her away from danger, saving her life. The two begin talking. Natasha explains that she loves science and only believes in things that can be observationally proven. Daniel is a helpless romantic, so he asks if Natasha will give him one day to get her to fall in love with him. She has one hour till her meeting, so Natasha gives Daniel one hour to scientifically prove that love exists. Will Daniel and Natasha fall in love, and can Natasha find a way to keep her family from being deported?
THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR has its sweet moments. The strongest dramatic dynamic are the family tensions portrayed that come with being a first generation American from strong working class immigrant parents. The young actors Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton who play Natasha and Daniel do a nice job, but some of the dialogue is weak and the direction loses focus.
There are multiple competing worldviews in the movie. The movie begins with Natasha quoting naturalist, agnostic Carl Sagan, who said “We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.” She talks about the importance of objective facts and observational science, like the Big Bang (according to her), which created the perfect world wherein she now lives. Because she’s a materialist, and only believes what can be proved, she doesn’t believe in love. Daniel, however, is a full-blown Romantic, in the sense that he believes one should do what they love, no matter what. On top of that however, Daniel also believes in “fate” and “destiny” in a way that’s nearly spiritual. Clearly, the coincidences that occur in the movie are more than coincidences, though God isn’t mentioned except for when Daniel explains to his friend that “Deus ex machina” means “God from the machine.” By the end, Natasha obviously sways toward Daniels Romantic worldview, but the naturalistic worldview isn’t totally contradicted, Natasha just finds a way of fitting them all together.
It’s unfortunate that once again, a teen romance drama is perpetuating false views of love and the world around us. There’s little to no substance within Natasha and Daniel’s “love,” which is primarily built on cute Instagram New York City moments. Love is a verb, an action, and requires sacrifice and selflessness. The only real love in the movie actually stems from both sets of parents, who of course have flaws in their parenting, but clearly show a sacrificial love for their children in their own way. The movie’s final depressing message affirms that love is fleeting, and those moments that take place within our 24-hour days may be all we really have.
Thankfully, the characters in THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR don’t fornicate, but there are about five too many make-out scenes between the teenagers. There’s also a moderate amount of foul language.
There’s nothing malicious behind THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR, it’s just sorely misguided. The characters want to do what’s right, they want to live a fulfilled life and find love that’ll end in marriage and a family. It’s better than the lawless hedonism we see in many other romance movies, it’s just not the biblical life and love that brings far greater purpose and fulfillment. What many people don’t realize is that they are like butterflies who flutter for a day thinking that that’s all there is, when there’s an eternity waiting for them on the other side.
THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR is a romantic drama about Natasha, a teenager in New York City who’s desperately trying to keep her family from being deported back to Jamaica the next day. Natasha loves science and believes in what can be observationally proved. However, when she meets a handsome Korean-American young man, Daniel, he tries to convince her love exists. He believes fate brought them together, so he asks her to give him the rest of the day to get her to fall in love with him, and scientifically prove love exists. The problem is that Natasha’s family leaves the next day.
THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR has its sweet moments, but the script and direction could’ve been better. The movie has multiple competing worldviews, including Natasha’s materialistic viewpoint and Daniel’s Romanticism. The ending merges both viewpoints, but mostly sides with the idea that people should do what they love no matter what, and a vague belief in “fate” and “destiny.” Because of these messages, and some foul language, strong caution is advised for THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR.