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Midnight Sun (5.5/10)
Director: Scott Speer
Runtime: 91 Minutes
This movie was a shot in the dark for me, I didn’t see any of the trailers and only had the reviews to go off. Which by no means were very good, in fact the movies been getting very poor reviews from critics so I didn’t expect this movie to be very good. To my surprise I actually pleasantly liked this movie and thought it was an enjoyable drama which throws in some sadness and romantic moments to please it’s teen audience. As I believe most people had to do, I also had to find out what xeroderma pigmentosum was, even if the movie does give us a brief description. I agree with every critic that one of this movies biggest mistakes is exploiting the condition known as XP, it never represents it in a respectful way and I would understand if many people find this movie offensive. XP can leave its beaer with many side effects, including an abundance of freckles, dry skin, cancerous lesions, and spider veins. Sadly only one in five make it to their 20th birthday. Bella Thorne never shows any signs of these throughout the movie and looks much more like a model than someone with XP. It’s clear that XP was just thrown in to make this cheap love story seem unique.
Thorne plays Katie, a red-haired, Disney-princess-like shut-in whose skin looks way to good than it probably should. Tucked away behind thick UV-blocking windows nearly all her life, Katie has been homeschooled by her overprotective father (Rob Riggle), who encourages her self-taught interest in music, to the extent that he permits her to take her guitar down to the tracks and sing for strangers after dark, so long as she returns before curfew. Eventually she gets spotted by Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger) and their love at first site relationship begins. Though Katie has been watching Charlie skateboard past her house for years so I guess it’s not technically first site.
Despite all the backlash this movie has received, I can’t help but like certain aspects of it. All of the performances are nothing special but they’re certainly not bad, Bella Thorne never truly makes me feel anything for real people who have this condition. This again resorts back to the movie never allowing Thorne to truly show off this heartbreaking condition in a realistic way. However, there is one stand out performance in the movie. Rob Riggle has always been known (to me anyway) as someone who always seems to play side characters in comedy movies, to see him be one of the main leads here really allows him to show off his acting abilities. He is brilliant in this movie, I really felt that he cared for his daughter and even though he always knew she most likely wouldn’t make it to 20, he still made her feel like one in a million by being one of the coolest dads he could possibly be. I especially loved one of the movies final scenes with Thorne and Riggle, no matter what she wanted him to be able to move on with his life after she’s gone, when they both start breaking down into tears I really felt this scene had emotional weight to it and was one of the movies best and most impactful scenes.
Overall, Midnight Sun is a very flawed film which never truly showcases it main topic in a respectful way. However, despite all this it does bolster an impressive performance by Rob Diggle, some very emotional moments, and good chemistry between it’s main two leads.