Charlie St. Cloud – Film Review

Published on Rushes Online (February 2011)

Behind the people who brought us Legally Blonde and the world of Scott Pilgrim, Burr Steers 2010 romantic drama Charlie St. Cloud presents a modern take on a ghost story that is sure to capture the hearts of audiences alike.

Based on the Ben Sherwood’s best-selling novel The Life and Death of Charlie St. Cloud and starring Hollywood heart-throb’s Zac Efron and Amanda Crew in their first on-screen partnership, Charlie St. Cloud follows one person’s dilemma of keeping a promise he made to his brother, or fighting for the girl he loves.

After surviving a car crash in which his brother died, Charlie St. Cloud (Efron) believes he’s lucky to be alive, yet questions the reasons about why his brother Sam was taken from him. Living with the guilt of the crash, St. Cloud declines his graduate scholarship, and instead becomes a caretaker at the cemetery where his brother lays to rest. Living the promise to practice baseball with Sam everyday at sunset until he leaves the town they both grew up in, St. Cloud realises that the only way to his brother is to live this way forever.

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However, when old school friend Tess Carroll (Crew) turns up on the scene five years later, St. Clouds life is thrown into chaos, as emotions and feelings St. Cloud thought he never had before start to develop, soon falling for the perfect girl of his dreams. Yet when realism and the afterlife start to indulge with one another, St. Cloud soon starts to find it hard to believe anything, questioning what really is real, and what is simply a matter of hallucination. Faced with having to choose between the girl he loves, or lose his brother forever, St. Cloud’s life is put to the test once more, which could sooner than later lead to a series of unfortunate events.

Watching the emotional events unfold on-screen throughout, Charlie St. Cloud is exactly how any movie of today’s time should portray ghost stories. Gone are the days of the clichéd examples that follow the plot of Jerry Zucker’s iconic Ghost, with audiences acknowledging the finale within thirty minutes of the opening titles. Charlie St. Cloud keeps audiences guessing from then on, not really knowing what is just around the corner, yet at the same time leaving audiences with that nagging feeling that everything seems all a bit too perfect.

Portraying an emotional personality also, which tends to show the rising strengths in Efron’s presence, Charlie St. Cloud is a surprisingly good watch which seems to sweet fit nicely within this year’s year of cinema. It’s the traditional romance story we expect every year, and Steers has delivered it.  

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