Midnight Sun tells a romantic and a nearly tearful story of a young girl with a condition that prevents her from being out in the sunlight.
When you read a movie premise like Midnight Sun‘s, you have to remind yourself that it is just a film, but you immediately try to guard against any emotional implications in the story. I expected Midnight Sun to tug the heartstrings, however, when the soppy third act drew to a close I felt empty and not at all curious as to what I had just seen.
Katie Price (not the model) is a character with Xeroderma pigmentosum (or also shortened and known as XP), which is a rare recessive genetic disorder of DNA repair in which the ability to repair damage caused by ultraviolet light is deficient. Taking away the Wikipedia research, she cannot go out in the sun, so anything she does can only be achieved at night. As you can imagine it must be hard as a teenager to accept this life, with kids passing the house every day basking in the sun. Fortunately, Katie’s father is a hero, who has made her night times fun. Conveniently, she has found a friend who likes staying inside, making her daily routine feel passable.
Putting the movie into perspective, Midnight Sun is about a girl who meets a boy, but adding the upsetting consequences of only being able to date at night. The movie does an applaudable job of elevating the importance of a young teenager needing to experiencing life despite having XP. Midnight Sun spends plenty of screen time showcasing the character enjoying her “first moments”, making the movie feel warm and endearing, allowing you to engage with Katie even more. At the same time, the film dangles the one elusive problem that the main character cannot simply live a normal life and that issue hangs over the lead female character like a dark shadow for the rest of movie. All of this is a ploy to manipulate the audience, as you hope she can find an amicable solution to her daily routine.
On the other hand, the movie fails to hit the jackpot with a hard-hitting ending, making the first hour almost a waste of storytelling. Despite the film’s efforts to showreel wonderful relationship moments with the boy she is courting, who just so happens to be Arnold Schwarzenegger’s son in real life, Midnight Sun decides to take the easy option, with an unrealistic happy outlook to the story. If I am honest, I was surprised by the daring direction the movie took initially, and when it reached the closing stages, I prepared myself for the usual emotional tropes that are injected into this type of film. Unfortunately, Midnight Sun misses an open goal by giving the audience an inkling for something to be sad about but then decides to jump ship and remove the sad atmosphere with a couple of odd scenes.
Midnight Sun is worth viewing despite its cowardice. The cast comes together to deliver a convincing story about a young girl suffering from a complicated disease. The movie does not try and overdramatise Katie’s daily routine and keeps it charming for the viewer to enjoy. Just don’t expect to remember the story.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.