On the somnolent roads of her seaside town, Kaoru sings and plays guitar to the dying rhythm of pedestrians and automobiles. Suffering from a rare allergen to UV light, night has become her only day. And despite her artistic talent, she’s never experienced a social life outside her home. But everything transforms when she finds Kouji. This average, wannabe surfer may fly under the radar of most, but his unwitting self is an unexpected sun.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Fatally sick girl plus underachieving boy equals a Nicholas Sparks novel. No, wait! That is, I think, a Sparks novel, and a subsequent Hollywood movie adaptation. Anyway, you get the gist; sounds like an estrogen fueled flick that men avoid at all costs.
Not so. Not so.
Though predictable in scope, Midnight Sun carefully veers off the trampled road of repetitive mediocrity. Yes, these two kids meet, fall in love, and ultimately face the reality of an incurable disease. We’ve seen this before. But thankfully this movie refuses to get sucked down the sick girl/slacker boy makes good vortex. No, no endless, cliché-ridden teen angst here. Instead, Midnight Sun simply captures the fumbling exhilaration of youthful romance. Even under looming misery, this film spurns the exploitation of those tear-soaked violins eagerly waiting to be played.
Don’t get me wrong. A film like this can’t avoid some cliché and sentimentality. But Midnight Sun is surprisingly human.
To be distributed by Viz Media, Midnight Sun made its premiere last month at Viz Cinema in San Francisco.