When I first saw the trailer for romance drama, I was intrigued by the concept of the rare condition called xeroderma pigmetosum (XP), which the lead female character was suffering from. I was also curious to see how Disney star Bella Thorne and newcomer Patrick Schwarzenegger would pull off such heavy content given their limited acting experience. I wasn’t expecting much but even that seemed like too high a bar to set for this disappointing drama.
Synopsis: Katie Price (Bella Thorne) suffers from XP, a disease which renders her unable to withstand even the slightest exposures to sunlight because it triggers a complete deterioration of her health. This means that even the smallest exposure could lead to fatal consequences. Because of her condition, she has spent her entire life indoors during the day, peeking out into the world through her UV protected window and wishing that she could live a normal life too. One day, the boy that she has long harbored a crush on, Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger) meets her for the first time and a romance blossoms between the two.
Midnight Sun was not completely horrible per se. It had a good premise to begin with but because it led with the illness, there is immediately a certain level of dramatics that audiences will come to expect. Unfortunately, the casting of Thorne and Schawrzenneger were fatal flaws to the movie because while they might have looked good on screen, the acting left a lot to be desired.
Bella seemed to be forcing the nice girl act. She seems to be more effective with tough psycho chick/bitch roles compared to the goody two ones. On the other hand, Patrick, try as he might, just could not squeeze out the emotion required of the role. Even at the most crucial moments, his acting was wooden at best. This really took the momentum out of the supposedly sweet and dramatic moments in the movie. Its really tough to root for characters that seem like they are just going through the motions instead of taking you in the moment.
The fact that the film used generic and formulaic moments from similar teen dramas did not help the movie but rather gave the audiences a reminder of what this particular film lacked against the film it was copying. Case in point, the last scenes in Midnight Sun almost seemed like it was trying to duplicate Landon’s emotional moment with Jamie’s dad in A Walk to Remember. The difference, Shane West was an excellent actor that could wring out a range of emotions based on the situation. Patrick Schwarzenegger could not even muster a tear after the supposedly touching speech that Katie’s dad gave him. Everything just seemed unnatural and it was aaaaaawkward.
There was great music and cinematography in the movie, in all fairness. They shot in a simple but beautiful location and it helped establish the tone for the film. But while the supporting cast was strong (Rob Riggle, Quinn Shepard), it was not enough to carry the film that was depressing because of its execution instead of its subject matter.
All in all, Midnight Sun was all style but very little substance. Its a shame really, because it could have been so much more.