“Midnight Sun” Offers a New Outlook on Life
I recently was granted the opportunity to attend a preview screening of the film “Midnight Sun,” starring Bella Thorne and Patrick Schwarzenegger. Thorne is known for her comedy roles in projects such as Disney Channel’s “Shake It Up” and the film “Blended,” starring Adam Sandler.
It was amazing to see Thorne portray a serious character. She plays Katie Price, a teenage girl who is diagnosed with xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) in the first grade. Katie has been forced to remain inside of her home as even the slightest exposure to sunlight could damage her skin, deteriorate her brain and ultimately lead to death. Despite the condition, she is a stellar student and an overall joy to be around.
She finds her best friend in Morgan (Quinn Shephard) who is immensely loyal. When Katie was younger, none of the neighborhood children wanted to befriend her. Morgan, however, took the initiative. She approached Katie’s father, Jack Price (Rob Riggle) to set up a playdate with his daughter, and he was ecstatic that someone wanted to spend time with Katie. Viewers can see how seriously Riggle took his shift from his normal comedy projects to this overprotective father role. Viewers empathize with Jack throughout the entire movie as he deals with his inner conflict of wanting to protect his daughter, but also wanting her to be happy and experience everything she can before it is too late.
One of the movie’s main focuses is around Katie’s passion for singing, songwriting and playing the guitar. The incorporation of original music that Katie’s character plays throughout the film adds light-heartedness to a largely depressing story. I deemed it a risk for the movie to incorporate original music as most others use popular songs to succeed in the box office. It was worth the risk as the music adds authenticity and realness to the film. In addition, it was a substantial way to further develop Katie’s character. I applaud Thorne for her openness to this experience and actually playing the guitar and singing in the movie, as she has not released a lot of music to date. In the film, Katie routinely shows off her skills to the passengers at a train station around 10 p.m. each night. This is where the not so typical love story begins between Katie and Charlie (Schwarzenegger).
Charlie was his high school’s star swimmer, but suffered an injury due to intoxication at a party. His scholarship to University of California, Berkeley has been revoked, and his future has been destroyed in one night. Charlie’s personality changes and he lacks the interest to spend life partying with his friends. Charlie is an extremely well-developed character. This is different from many other teenage romance films as they tend to focus on elaborating the female characters, while only scratching the surface of that of males. Viewers feel like they are in Charlie’s mind and are grateful to him for bringing so much happiness to Katie.
After leaving a high school graduation party early, Charlie hears Katie’s angelic voice and is drawn to the spot where she is playing her guitar. Katie is flabbergasted by his interest and rushes home, dropping her journal of music in the process. At this point in the movie, the theater of mainly teenage girls switched from silence to laughter in response to Katie’s relatable and awkward first encounter with her crush. After Charlie finds the journal, he writes his phone number in it.
When Katie returns to the spot the following evening to retrieve her journal, she sees Charlie there. She tries to escape, but he formally introduces himself and asks her to hang out sometime. Katie agrees and so begin their night time adventures. Katie is finally happy, but still apprehensive about her condition, as she wants more time to be treated like “more than just a disease.” This line has the audience reflect on how they think about and treat others, as well as consider how other people may view themselves.
Everything changes for the couple after they fall asleep on the beach. Katie wakes up to see that it is nearing 5 a.m. She frantically panics as she knows sunlight is arriving shortly. She rushes to Charlie’s car and urges him to drive. He is confused, but takes her back to her house. At this point in the film, my heart was beating out of my chest with anxiety about what was going to happen in the proceeding few minutes. Jack and Morgan are both at the house when Katie comes storming in the door, and Morgan informs Charlie about Katie’s XP. Katie and her father then go to the hospital.
A few days later, her doctor comes to their house and informs them that although minimal damage to the skin was made, internal symptoms could still arise. Katie tries breaking up with Charlie as she does not want to hurt him, though he does not let her do so. They decide to continue trying. This is an extremely uplifting scene in the film and another that enforced the recurring message of viewing life in a positive way even when things may be taking a turn for the worst.
This movie is excellent because it is able to appeal to the emotions of those watching. I did not want the movie to end, as I actually felt like I was a part of the story and entrenched in the characters’ lives. The only drawback is that the film seemed to feel extremely short in comparison to others. The film ends on a bittersweet note and the tissues that the event staff handed to each attendee before entering the theater was much needed. This movie inspired me to not take any day for granted, and to make the best of every situation.