The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud was a best selling novel when it was released back in 2004 and as is the trend these days it was soon made into a film. Charlie St. Cloud tells the story of the title character trying to come to terms with the death of his younger brother until he ultimately must make the choice between keeping a promise to his dead brother or saving the life of a girl that he feels very strongly for. The official synopsis calls it a gift that Charlie can see his deceased brother in the forest but I’m not sure that’s what I would call it, it seems more like a curse not being able to get over the grief or the guilt of such a tragic event happening.

Zac Efron takes the main role as the pretty much perfect guy: he loves and really cares for his mum, he has a very strong bond and friendship with his little brother, he’s one of the best young sailors in the country and has a scholarship to university, he’s got good friends and pretty much his pick of the girls. It’s easy to cast a pretty boy in this type of role but the storyline requires some acting talent too and Efron may have his doubters but I think that he is actually a pretty good actor (he just gets tarnished as rubbish by people who don’t like High School Musical without basing their opinions on anything else). His performance here is pretty good and he gives you a real sense of conflict inside his mind. Charlie Tahan is acting way beyond his maturity in the role of Charlie’s dead little brother Sammy. This duo is supported by Tess Carroll and the surprisingly funny Augustus Prew: there are small appearances from Kim Basinger, Ray Liotta and Dave Franco (complete with the unmistakeable Franco smile).

The opening scene shows Charlie and his brother winning a sailing competition and while it does little to get the adrenaline pumping it sets up the story nicely and the next twenty minutes or so help to build up the sense of brotherhood, friendship and respect that the two brothers share. The death of Sammy wasn’t actually the most emotional part of the film. I felt that Charlie’s trips to see his brother in the forest were very touching and really nicely dealt with and really showed the conflict and guilt that Charlie was suffering from inside his head while he wouldn’t let anybody else know about it. His relationship with Tess seems to move pretty quickly which is understandable once you have seen the film all the way through.

The big twist comes about two thirds of the way through and while it isn’t quite as big as The Sixth Sense, which is obviously had some effect on making this film, it is still a good and pretty powerful one I thought. However, I don’t think the film dealt with the twist as well as it could have done and the third act unfortunately lets the film down after a very promising first two acts. The ending is pretty corny as you would expect from a romance film aimed at teenage girls because corny and cheesy sells so well that studios don’t feel the need to do anything else any more.

Saying that though, I really enjoyed Charlie St. Cloud and would certainly watch it again.

My Rating: 6/10.

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