"Charlie St. Cloud" Movie Review (2010)

7/30/2010 Posted by Admin

"Charlie St. Cloud"

Movie Review

Directed by Burr Steers, Written by Craig Pearce, 100 Minutes, Rated PG-13

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

On first glance, there are many reasons to think "Charlie St. Cloud" is just another typical sappy teen melodrama along the lines of the various Nicholas Sparks film adaptations--its cast, the bleak subject matter, the warm colors, the lovely views of the ocean--thankfully, and really miraculously, it rises above its genre and comes out perhaps not quite as a very good film, but certainly one far better than the films it will be compared to.

Zac Efron is our eponymous hero, an extremely gifted sailor and a great role model to his little brother Sam (Charlie Tahan). Everything is looking bright for him--his successes in various sailing races have brought him a scholarship to Stanford, and he's the general talk of the town, but one night while driving to the store with Sam, their car is struck by a drunk driver, and though Charlie is resuscitated en route to the hospital, his brother dies on the spot.

Five years pass, and guilt is eating Charlie alive. He hasn't gotten on a boat since the accident, and he's given up going to school or making any meaningful relationships. He works as a maintenance man at the graveyard where his brother was buried, and he has quite an interesting secret. He can speak to ghosts, and he visits his brother in order to live up to the promise he made to him before he died, that he'd play catch with him every day, without fail. This has made him into a sort of recluse, and the town no longer speaks of his promise and accomplishments, but of his eccentricities. From everyone else's point-of-view, the guy has gone completely mad.

Charlie gets a second chance in the form of Tess Carroll (Amanda Crew), a fellow sailor who befriends Charlie and may be his key to finally letting the grief surrounding his brother's death go away for good so that he can go on with his life.

It's a weird cross between "The Sixth Sense" and, well, any modern melodrama that might come to mind, and for a lot of its running time it really works. Efron and Tahan in particular really rise to the occasion. They pull off a big brother-little brother dynamic quite flawlessly, the emotional power behind which most of the film is built, and those in doubt about Efron's talents because of his relentless teen dreamboat status will likely be surprised by how much he brings to this role. I won't go so far as to pull out the cliched "He's totally our modern James Dean!" just yet--it seems as if every time we get a new young actor, they're the next James Dean--but he pulls off the angst without seeming too terribly false and he has a bit more charisma than Robert Pattinson, another relatively underrated young actor who will likely be Efron's main competition in the coming years, as long as the two stay on the right path.

As far as these kind of movies go, it's a pretty good-looking one, with as much focus going to making more simple visuals look great as the big landscapes, so you don't just feel like you're watching a sad sap story on the back of a postcard like "Dear John" or "The Last Song."

The film really starts going downhill after a major twist in the second act, but otherwise it's a pretty entertaining and touching drama with plenty of little laughs here and there to ease the morbidity a bit. It may even melt the boyfriend's heart a little bit.

Grade: C

Below is the trailer. What are your thoughts of the movie?

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