The debut feature from writer and director Kirsten Carthew, The Sun at Midnight, casts rising star Devry Jacobs (Rhymes for Young Ghouls) as Lia, a sullen, artistic, fashionista teenager disgruntled with her dads decision to send her to live with her grandmother in the subarctic while he takes off on a two month contract for work. Not fitting in and finding herself bullied, she attempts to run away in a boat to something close to civilization. Once that doesn’t pan out, she finds herself stranded in the wilderness about a four week walk from anywhere. It’s in this dire situation – and following a harrowing encounter at a hunter camp – that she befriends Alfred (Duane Howard, best known from The Revenant), a caribou tracker who agrees to watch over and protect her.
It’s pretty much a bog standard tale of a spoiled teen learning something from a wizened sage until it’s time for her to repay the favour and he learns something from her in return. Carthew’s tale is formulaic and basic, rushing perhaps a bit too quickly through her first act while we’re just getting to know Lia. Nothing hits as too much of a shock, and yet it still feels like things escalate quicker than they should.
Possibly the hurry in the early going is to get to the bits with Jacobs and Howard together, since the chemistry the actors have together is effortless and genuine. They bring The Sun at Midnight to roaring life whenever they’re allowed to bounce off each other, and the film flounders whenever they aren’t on screen together. Thankfully, that’s much of Carthew’s film, so the results are a minor success. It should also go without saying that Carthew captures the beauty of the Canadian North in summer to gorgeous effect.