By Tracy Wang
The flourish of tragic teen romance these years has flooded our radar, and made us ask ourselves the reasoning behind the rising number of these films. Young charismatic leads, and a tearjerker storyline that centers around some fatal diseases are usually the must-have for this genre, and ‘Midnight Sun’ is no exception.
Katie Price (Bella Thorne), a 17-year-old girl who suffers from Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP), a genetic disorder that impairs the person’s ability to repair the damage after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, has been homeschooled since little, and mostly remained indoor to avoid contact with UV light. Sleeping in daylight, and active during the night, Katie develops a passion for music and songwriting, and also a habit of watching a boy named Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger) going by her house every day.
One night, she goes to the train station to sing her songs, and meets Charlie in person for the first time. Her best and only friend, Morgan (Quinn Shephard), helps her start a relationship with Charlie, and the two quickly become inseparable. However, in order to feel like a normal teenage girl, Katie fails to tell Charlie about her disease. His lack of knowledge and their blooming romance make a potential romantic morning to be violently disrupted, when she realizes the sun is rising, and rushes back home.
That exposure to UV light causes damage, and Katie resumes her life as if Charlie has never existed. As her condition continues to deteriorate, she faces the questions of how she wants to live the rest of her life, and how she could continue to write her love story with Charlie.
‘Midnight Sun’ could be said to be the next in line of a series of teenage tragic romance where one or both the main leads have some kinds of life-threatening diseases. It carries on a similar storyline where they have felt so alone, before they meet each other, and their romance becomes a life-altering experience that might end in one character’s death.
We have seen countless storylines like this, and we walk into the cinema expecting to find something exactly the same, but ‘Midnight Sun’ manages to fall within this genre, but stand quite alone at the same time.
Almost always criticized for its large amount of melodrama, ‘Midnight Sun’ captures its own share of melodrama. However, its concise and compact storyline allows the film to move along quickly, and keeps us invested enough to witness their romance develop and bloom at night. Similar to the use of time, not one single character is wasted in this film. Each one, the father (Robert Riggle), the best friend, and even the best friend’s boyfriend, is given just the right amount of personality and story for us to get to know them, and even come to care about them.
Along with the compact doomed romance and two charming leads, we get a wonderful soundtrack that smoothly complements the whole film. From Mia Wray’s Where I Stand to lead Thorne’s numerous uplifting songs including Walk With Me, we sway with the tunes, and immerse more of ourselves with the sound of the film.
What makes ‘Midnight Sun’ stand out and remove the label of a ‘tearjerker teen romance’ is perhaps Katie’s relationships with her father and her best friend. Though Charlie is the one who eventually opens her world to new adventures, her father and friend are the ones who open her heart, and make her world as colorful as possible. A father who sacrifices everything to stand by and protect her daughter, and a friend who is brave enough to stand up and be the friend that so many others refuse to become, rival with the romance blooming between Katie and Charlie, and it is this focus on friendship, father-daughter relationship and romance that makes ‘Midnight Sun’ a worthy tearjerker that pays tribute to all kinds of love there are.
On big screen starting on March 23rd, ‘Midnight Sun’ promises to bring about more awareness for XP, and 91 minutes that make us believe in love again, whether it is a teenage romance, a lifelong friendship, or the unconditional love given by a father, who prioritize her daughter’s wishes above all else. If you are in need of some pure and sweet romance that might make you cry a little bit, you should go catch ‘Midnight Sun’.