‘Midnight Sun’ eclipsed by familiarity, predictability

Twist on the teenage romance genre fails to sustain intrigue

Isaac Wert

More stories from Isaac Wert

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Ed Araquel

Fair use from Boies/Schiller Film Group

If you’re a teenager in 2018, chances are you have seen, or at least read, John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars.” The popular novel/film centers around young love plagued by terminal illness, following a flourishing romance with a looming, inevitable expiration. When I saw the film in theaters, there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience. Needless to say, the film was a roaring success.

But in what feels like a lazy attempt at replicating the movie magic of “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Midnight Sun” seemingly possesses all the ingredients of a great teenage love story, but the result is a boring, diluted simulacrum of the genre. I just could not bring myself to care about these characters. 

“Midnight Sun” seemingly possesses all the ingredients of a great teenage love story, but the result is a boring, diluted simulacrum of the genre. I just could not bring myself to care about these characters.”

— Isaac Wert

While “The Fault in Our Stars” revolved around the pain experienced by those suffering from cancer, “Midnight Sun” focuses on a less-common terminal illness, called Xeroderma Pigmentosum, or XP. Those who suffer from XP are essentially allergic to sunlight, as their bodies are unable to repair damage from ultraviolet rays. “Midnight Sun” centers around Katie (Bella Thorne), a highschooler suffering from XP who winds up in a nocturnal romance with her dreamy neighbor, Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger). Afraid to tell Charlie about her illness, Katie ends up putting her life at risk for a chance at love.

But despite XP being a heartbreaking terminal illness, Katie’s experience with the disease throughout the film feels very low stakes. In fact, viewers barely see how XP physically affects Katie at all, barring one quick scene in which she struggles to play the guitar. Since the film is a teenage love story and not a medical documentary, it’s understandable why the filmmaker chose to emphasize the emotional pain of XP over the physical struggle, but in terms of highlighting the struggle experienced by those who suffer from XP, the film could have been more emotionally engaging by telling less and showing more.

The acting in “Midnight Sun” is ultimately not noteworthy – a result of the film’s clichéd romantic dialogue. “Midnight Sun” is so nauseatingly predictable that my fellow movie-goers and I couldn’t resist yelling out the lines before the characters, and more often than not, we were spot-on. For a film that claims to feature a twist on the traditional teenage romance story, “Midnight Sun” is disappointingly familiar.

While “Midnight Sun’s” set-up has the potential to make for a great film, à la “The Fault in Our Stars,” its execution relies too heavily on teenage tropes, trite dialogue and a predictable story progression to emotionally engage viewers. While it’s impossible to know the secret spice “The Fault in Our Stars” added to this mix, “Midnight Sun” feels like it was made with an easy-bake oven.

And if you’re still thinking about buying tickets, save your money and just go check out the movie’s trailer. There’s no reason to waste your time and money watching “Midnight Sun.”

“Midnight Sun:” ★★☆☆☆