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The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud
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The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Teenaged Charlie (Zac Efron) and his younger brother Sam (Charlie Tahan) make an unbeatable yachting partnership. They have a great competitive future ahead of them.
When an horrific car crash kills the brothers, with a bit of Hollywood magic, the doctors manage to get Charlie’s heart beating again. But they can’t save Sam.
We jump forward five years and Charlie has failed to fulfil his promise as a young sailor – he hasn’t even left his home town.
He’s got himself a job as a caretaker at the graveyard where Sam is buried. Each evening, at the same time, he sneaks off to a nearby clearing.
There, he can see Sam – talk to Sam – and fulfil a promise to teach him baseball.
One day, he finds a beautiful young woman, crying over the untended grave of her father. Tess (Amanda Crew) turns out to be a former yachting rival of his and they soon become close friends.
She’s practicing for a hazardous yacht race, but he can’t take part himself, because of his pledge to meet up with Sam every day.
Can his experiences with Tess end up saving him from his past – and building him a new future? And maybe it’s actually Tess who needs saving and Charlie’s just the man to do it.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

The film is as beautiful as its leading couple, but looks aren’t everything – it’s a rather cheesy, emetic, twenty-something, fantasy melodrama.
Worse than that, it steals from so many films, you lose count – we have characters seeing dead people (6th Sense?) after having briefly died (Ghost Town?) and the dead people trying to come to terms with their fate so that they can move on (Lovely Bones?) to name just three, and it doesn’t have the tension, the humour or the beauty of any of the films it emulates, intentionally or otherwise.
The initial yachting sequences are exhilarating and the car crash is shocking, but most of the rest of the film is just a bunch of people talking to each other – with nothing much of interest going on, as the film slowly and deliberately builds to its twist.
But while – on one level – the twist seems quite clever, when you stop to think about it, you realise that it simply doesn’t work in the world that’s been created for us. It’s inconsistent in so many ways that if you do guess it, it almost certainly means you haven’t been following.
Some audiences will see anything starring Zac Efron – and in truth, he does the best he can with the material – but for anyone else, there’s almost nothing to recommend this film.
Even such strong supporting actors as Kim Basinger and Ray Liotta are wasted in roles that are pointless and way beneath them.

Opens nationwide 8th October 2010

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