Midnight Sun (3 stars)

Midnight Sun

Moving teen romance starring Bella Thorne that transcends its unpromising premise

Teenage romantic drama Midnight Sun could so easily have turned into what they used to call in America a 'movie of the week'. A young girl with a rare and potentially fatal disease who falls for the handsome young man who passes by her window every day, it sounds horribly slushy, like the made-for-television melodrama of old. But credit is due to director Scott Speer and the cast for turning this into a genuinely moving tale of impossible love.

Bella Thorne plays teenager Katie Price (and, no, before you ask, this is not a Jordan biopic), who has been home-schooled her entire life. Why? Because she suffers from the condition XP – xeroderma pigmentosum – which means she can't ever be in the sunlight for fear of triggering a fatal reaction. By day, she stays at home, behind specially tinted windows. At night, she can go out, although this earned her the nickname of 'vampire' when she was young.

For years, she's mooned over Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger, son of Arnold), a hunky high-schooler who, until a recent accident, was a major swim team competitor. When she meets him one night whilst busking at the local railway station, he's intrigued. Soon enough, after a little shyness on her part, they're dating, but Katie doesn't tell Charlie about her condition. They meet in the evenings – she's always 'busy' in the day.

With her father Jack (Rob Riggle) concerned that she'll be rejected emotionally, or worse, the tension arises from just how she'll explain her illness. How it unfolds is elegantly handled. For once, the boyfriend isn't a douche and the father isn't overbearing. Admittedly, it doesn't quite feel fully fleshed into a feature, with the final act rather underdeveloped. But, like that beloved Ryan Gosling weepie The Notebook, this is a heartbreaker that will get everyone teary-eyed.

General release from Fri 30 Mar.

Midnight Sun

  • 3 stars
  • 2018
  • US
  • 1h 31min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Scott Speer
  • Cast: Bella Thorne, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Rob Riggle
  • UK release: 30 March 2018

Katie (Thorne) has xeroderma pigmentosum, which means sunlight could kill her, but then she meets longterm crush Charlie (Schwarzenegger), busking at night. Speer and the cast manage to turn a slushy premise into an effectively moving weepie; for once, the boyfriend isn’t a douche and the father isn’t overbearing.