Final Destination is a great franchise where no matter what you do, death finds a way to turn everyday activities into death traps. The Sun Is Also A Star has a more positive take on destiny, whereby everyday coincidences can actually bring people together.
Natasha Kingsley (Yara Shahidi) is meeting with the immigration office the day before her family is to be deported back to Jamaica. Daniel (Charles Melton) is on his way to an interview for Dartmouth.
Circumstances bring Daniel and Natasha together, as well as set in motion events that will also connect to their individual struggles. Meanwhile, the two teens spend a day getting to know each other.
Richard Linklater is sort of the grandmaster of these “two people spend a day talking” movies, but it’s great to see a diverse couple get their own two-hander. Natasha is a scientist and Daniel is a poet so his romantic brain is trying to convince Natasha to believe in fate and love.
Depending on who you believe, the audience has got to realize they’re either hoping for a miracle or preparing for a tragedy. Both stories are relevant to illustrate the individual costs of current events, be they political or familial.
Daniel’s parents are pressuring him to go to medical school. Natasha’s have given up on immigration long ago. Sure, these lifelong issues are expressed directly in a single day, but I don’t think that makes them any less valid.
I do believe that kids are passionate and impulsive. They could connect when their family’s futures hang in the balance. Titanic was also only two days before a major crisis happened.
The walk and talk is also periodically interrupted by some scientific or historical interludes. Photo montages illustrate Carl Sagan’s theory of the universe or the history of the South Korean wig industry.
These interludes are both educational and thematic. It can’t hurt to know these things, and if you already knew them then you can appreciate the thematic resonance.
I think it’s a positive thing to give young audiences an example of connection and thoughtfulness rather than just gimmicks and spectacle. Of course, it’s a lot easier to say coincidences are fate when they were constructed for the movie’s (and book’s) narrative, but nothing’s so outrageous or far fetched that it’s a stretch.
The Sun is Also a Star is in theaters Friday, May 17.