iSugio

Midnight Sun – Review

by Roxanne Youngblood

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16-year-old Kaoru suffers from a rare disease called XP, which causes her to be very sensitive to sunlight. Koji is a student at the local high school who enjoys spending his time surfing in the morning. Every morning, Kaoru watches Koji from her window before she goes to bed. At night, she plays her guitar in the street. One early morning, she and Koji cross paths, and she awkwardly introduces herself to him. The two start spending time together at night, and Koji works during the day so that he can help Kaoru record one of her songs. Right before she can record the song, the second part of her disease, severe neurological damage, sets in, and she can no longer play her guitar. With encouragement from Koji and her family, Kaoru still sings, and her song is recorded shortly before she dies.

The acting, overall, was splendid. The actors were able to truly express emotions as their characters would, and YUI believably portrayed the growing stages of the disease. Even through critical eyes, she still appeared to be unable to move her left arm and the her struggle walking at the end of the movie didn’t come off as fake or overdone.

Although Tsukamoto performed well, there were times where he appeared to be too old for the part. At the time of the release, he was 24 years old, and in many of the scenes this was noticeable.

YUI’s music in this movie is impressive, and after hearing it, I instantly bought her CD with songs from the movie. Having only three songs in the movie seems like a struggle to keep the songs from getting repetitive, but the movie follows her writing the last song, and creates a passionate movie end by finally releasing this song she worked on throughout the two hours.

The overall pace started out slow. There were periods in the movie where five or so minutes would pass without any dialogue. However, music and folly work helped to guide these scenes, and elicited appropriate emotions from the audience. The points in the movie where there was true silence created an awkward feeling for viewers, which worked very well in the scene where Kaoru and Koji see each other a second time, after Kaoru throws him into the train tracks.

The movie asks for a lot of suspension of disbelief from the audience. In the scene where Kaoru and Koji officially meet, Kaoru throws him into the train tracks, and starts yelling at him what is, essentially, her online dating profile (her name, age, her hobby is music, has never had a boyfriend, and she loves bananas). Best friend Misaki saves Kaoru from this, but when Koji and Kaoru meet again, they are awkward. He greets her, and she confesses that she was the one who threw him into the train tracks. He is then fascinated by her music, and the nothing-short-of-insane greeting is forgotten.

Accepting that Koji probably just has a fascination for crazy girls hanging around train stations, the rest of the plot is just like any romantic movie. Kaoru is afraid to tell Koji how she is ‘broken’, they stay out too late, Koji realizes what is wrong with Kaoru and wants to fix her, and finally Kaoru dies after being able to truly realize her dream.

Perhaps it is the humorous insanity Kaoru has, or perhaps it is the beautiful (rather than cheesy) acting, but this movie is more impressive than most other romantic movies out there. Kaoru’s struggles are met with sympathy, not ridicule, and the story is genuinely sad, with a journey so real and meaningful that the movie begs to be watched over and over.

Overall, the movie is pretty solid. Using a less-common and little-known disease kept the story from becoming another cliche chick flick. The characters are well-developed, and react in ways that almost always feels natural. There are awkward pauses and interactions which makes the movie more relatable and realistic. Those involved in the production did a wonderful job at making sure the movie flowed well, and that creatively was able to tell a beautiful story about the struggles of two teenagers falling in love and working to give each other the best final moments they can have together.

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Author: Roxanne Youngblood

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